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Trudeau hopes to vault Liberals from third party to stable, majority government

EDMONTON - Justin Trudeau confirms the Liberals have set their sights on winning a majority in next year's federal election.

The Liberal leader suggests a minority wouldn't do because Canadians want a strong, stable government with representation from every part of the country.

The Liberal party, which currently has just 37 MPs, would have to win at least 170 seats to hold a bare majority in the House of Commons, which will have 338 seats after the 2015 vote.

Trudeau acknowledges that Liberals have a lot of work to do to achieve that goal.

But he's encouraged by the enthusiastic response Liberals are getting across the country.

And he's convinced Stephen Harper's Conservative government, which will be nearing the 10 year mark by the time of the next election, is close to its expiry date.

"The one thing we've heard across this country, everywhere we go from Canadians we meet, is that they're tired of the approach, the tone, the lack of ambition of Mr. Harper's government and they want a better government," Trudeau said Wednesday at the conclusion of a three-day caucus retreat to plot strategy for the coming pre-election year.

Trudeau confirmed a Toronto Star report that his election readiness team has set 170 seats as their goal.

"Canadians want a stable, strong government that's going to respond to their needs and build a better future. You do the math," he said coyly at one point.

He later added that 170 seats would mean "we have connected with Canadians and that we've worked hard to earn the confidence and trust of Canadians, that we're going to be able to provide a better government that will cover the entire country and leave no part of this country disregarded or disengaged."

The Liberals held their caucus retreat in Alberta, a Conservative stronghold and Harper's home turf. Liberals currently hold no seats in the province but hope to win as many as six of 34 seats up for grabs in the next election.

Alberta has been a wasteland for the Liberals for decades, particularly in the wake of the reviled national energy program, introduced by Trudeau's late father, Pierre, in 1980.

A rally with Trudeau in an Edmonton park Tuesday evening drew about half the 600 people the party had hoped would turn out. But Trudeau insisted he wasn't disappointed.

"Quite frankly, I'm encouraged whenever anyone comes out to see Liberals in Alberta."

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