COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN
Federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau shares a laugh with former mayor, MLA and MP Rick Borotsik and his wife Norma after a speech at the Victoria Inn on Tuesday evening.
Federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau urged people in Brandon to be more than "just passive consumers of politics" and instead be the creators of it.
Trudeau addresses audience members at a town hall meeting at Brandon University on Tuesday.
(BRUCE BUMSTEAD/BRANDON SUN)
Federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau laughs at a joke following a public town hall meeting at Brandon University on Tuesday. (BRUCE BUMSTEAD/BRANDON SUN)
Federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau greets Assiniboine Community College students at the North Hill campus’ sustainable greenhouse facility on Tuesday afternoon. (COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN)
That was one of the main messages Trudeau had for the roughly 125 people who gathered at Brandon University for a town hall meeting on Tuesday.
"All across the country, wherever I go, people are coming to me with a sense of hope, a sense of optimism, a sense of potential for inclusion of citizens in the political process," Trudeau said. "You see, over the past years we’ve become tremendously cynical about politics and it doesn’t really become us … Canadians are not known to be a cynical people."
Trudeau is in Manitoba to show support for Liberal candidates in upcoming byelections in Brandon-Souris and Provencher, both traditionally Conservative ridings. Byelection dates have yet to be announced.
Trudeau said people are demanding a better level of representation.
"One thing I’ve heard across the country … is that western Canadians chose good people from their communities to be their voices in Ottawa, to represent their community’s views, concerns, values and issues in the House of Commons," he said. "Over time, all western Canadians got was people who had become mouthpieces for the Prime Minister’s Office, spokespeople for Stephen Harper."
Trudeau touched on the Brandon-Souris Conservative nomination race, where two nomination applications were rejected (Chris Kennedy and Len Isleifson), leaving Arthur-Virden MLA Larry Maguire to be acclaimed. There has been some controversy surrounding Kennedy’s rejection. He was told it was due to a missing $1,000 deposit cheque, which he maintains was included in his application.
"Lately we’re seeing in the news that the Conservative party isn’t even satisfied with turning the people into mouthpieces, they’re more picking the people who they think should be their voice here in Brandon," Trudeau said.
The Brandon Sun sat down to speak with Trudeau in an exclusive interview prior to his appearance at Brandon University.
While he didn’t want to weigh in too much about the controversy surrounding the Conservative nomination, Trudeau did say there is a "sense of disillusionment" that he has seen in the community.
"Including former Conservatives who have expressed to me a frustration in a sense that this is not the direction that our politics should be going in," he said. "This is a move, either accidentally or deliberately, to impose a top-down view of politics at a time where I think politics is changing deeply."
Trudeau went on to say that the Conservative situation in Brandon is disappointing to see.
"When we see a politician from any party, the political structures within any party, strong-arming local organizations like this, it reflects poorly on all of us as politicians and as political parties," he said.
When asked if he thought this controversy would help the Liberal candidate in the byelection, Trudeau said he’s not of the impression that it’ll suddenly give them a "grand sweep."
"The Liberal party has an awful lot of work to do, we’re down to 35 seats now," he said. "I’m not shying away from that, we’re not shying away from the size of the challenge … We’re taking these ridings seriously."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 25, 2013