'My friends, we will do better': Trudeau confirms bid to lead federal Liberals

The Canadian Press
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MONTREAL — It’s time to put away childish things, Justin Trudeau declared Tuesday as the telegenic, raven-haired son of a former prime minister launched his bid to lead the federal Liberals and convince Canadians he’s more than just a pretty face.

Hundreds of supporters, crammed into a community centre in his riding of Papineau, cheered wildly as the 40-year-old Montreal MP confirmed his leadership ambitions, easily among the worst-kept political secrets in Canada.

“I am running because I believe this country wants and needs new leadership, a vision for Canada’s future grounded not in the politics of envy or mistrust,” Trudeau told a crowd peppered with Liberal party luminaries.

“One that understands, despite all the blessings beneath our feet, that our greatest strength is above ground, in our people. All Canadians, pulling together, determined to build a better life, a better Canada.”

A screen behind the podium displayed a simple campaign logo that featured his first name much more prominently than the lineage for which the son of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau is so famous.

Trudeau said he wants to reconnect the Liberal party with the ordinary people who gave it life. And he singled out restoring the economic health of the Canadian middle class as a principal goal.

“A thriving middle class provides realistic hope and a ladder of opportunity for the less fortunate — a robust market for our businesses, and a sense of common interest for all,” he said.

But as the middle class in China, India, South Korea and Brazil enjoys increasing prosperity, Canadians are experiencing the opposite, he continued — stalled income levels, escalating costs and ballooning personal debt.

“What’s the response from the NDP? To sow regional resentment and blame the successful. The Conservative answer? Privilege one sector over others and promise that wealth will trickle down, eventually,” he said.

“Both are tidy ideological answers to complex and difficult questions. The only thing they have in common is that they are both, equally, wrong.”

A school teacher before jumping into politics in 2008, Trudeau has long been seen by his critics — many of them fellow Liberals — as a man of more flash than substance. Tuesday’s speech was designed to showcase a more cerebral, thoughtful side.

“It is time for us, for this generation of Canadians, to put away childish things,” he said. “More, it is time for all of us to come together and get down to the very serious, very adult business of building a better country.”

He said he chose to make his announcement on Tuesday because it would have been the 37th birthday of his late brother Michel, a skier who was killed in an avalanche in 1998.

“Every day, I think about him and I remember not to take anything for granted,” Trudeau said in French. “To live my life fully. And to always be faithful to myself.”

He reached out to Quebecers, promising a party that “promotes and cherishes the francophone reality of this country.”

The challenge that province could pose was evident in the fact that while English news networks carried Trudeau’s speech live, the two Montreal-based, French-language networks opted instead to air highlights from Quebec’s corruption inquiry.

“I want the Liberal party to be once again the vehicle for Quebecers to contribute to the future of Canada,” Trudeau said.

On Wednesday, Trudeau embarks on a cross-Canada tour designed in part to prove he’s more than just his famous father’s telegenic offspring.

He’ll kick things off in Calgary, a Liberal wasteland since his father’s hated National Energy Program, and Richmond, B.C., before attending a rally Thursday in Mississauga, Ont.

On Friday, he’ll visit the New Brunswick riding of Beausejour, where Liberal MP and longtime friend Dominic LeBlanc, himself long considered a leadership contender, is expected to offer his endorsement of Trudeau’s bid.

Trudeau has been in the public eye since he was born on Christmas Day, 1971. As a child, he travelled the country and the world with his famous father, then prime minister.

He eschewed offers to run in Montreal’s Outremont riding — then considered a safe Liberal seat, now held by NDP Leader Tom Mulcair — choosing instead to fight a contested nomination in Papineau, once a Bloc Quebecois stronghold and among the poorest ridings in the country.

He defeated a star Bloquiste in 2008 and bucked the NDP tide that swept Quebec in 2011, increasing his margin of victory.

In Liberal circles, he is an undisputed rock star, the party’s biggest draw at fundraisers. He boasts more than 150,000 Twitter followers. His already sky-high stock soared last spring when he won a charity boxing match against Conservative Senator Patrick Brazeau.

For all that, Trudeau remains an unknown quantity in many respects. In his various shadow cabinet posts — youth, amateur sport, immigration — he’s had little to say about the big issues of the day, virtually nothing about the economy.

When he’s ventured occasionally into meatier issues, he’s invariably created controversy — criticizing the government’s use of the word “barbaric” to describe female genital mutilation, suggesting he’d support Quebec secession if he thought Canadians shared Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s values.

His choice of campaign team suggests Trudeau is well aware he needs to demonstrate more depth and substance.

Among his key supporters is Gerald Butts, longtime friend and former head of policy for Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, and a raft of key organizers from policy-wonkish Gerard Kennedy’s 2006 leadership bid, including campaign director Katie Telford, Bains and Alghabra.

Kennedy himself is still pondering whether he’ll take a second run at becoming federal Liberal leader. He insisted Monday he won’t be deterred by the fact that his old team seems to have moved, almost en masse, to Trudeau, who endorsed Kennedy in 2006.

“I think Justin has a lot to offer the country,” Kennedy said.

But he added: “There’ve been prohibitive favourites before. Sometimes they’ve won and sometimes they haven’t.”

Toronto-based constitutional lawyer Deborah Coyne, the mother of Trudeau’s half-sister, has already announced her candidacy, as has Manitoba paramedic Shane Geschiere.

A host of others are considering taking the plunge but may yet be scared off by Trudeau’s presumed edge.

Among them are Montreal MP Marc Garneau, Canada’s first astronaut, Vancouver MP Joyce Murray, former cabinet minister Martin Cauchon, former MP and leadership candidate Martha Hall Findlay, Ontario government economist Jonathan Mousley, former Ottawa candidate David Bertschi, Toronto lawyer George Takach, and David Merner, former president of the party’s B.C. wing.

Ottawa MP David McGuinty is also said to be mulling his chances but is not considered likely to take the plunge. Veteran Montreal MP Denis Coderre is pondering whether to run for the Liberal leadership or mayor of Montreal and is thought to be leaning toward the latter.

The contest doesn’t officially begin until Nov. 14 and culminates on April 14.





Organizations: NDP, Cross-Canada, Bloc Quebecois

Geographic location: MONTREAL, Canada, Papineau Quebec China India South Korea Brazil Calgary Richmond Ontario Mississauga New Brunswick Beausejour Outremont Manitoba Ottawa Toronto

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Recent comments

  • yo garth
    October 03, 2012 - 18:58

    have you checked the deficit numbers that your hero Harper has run up? or did you conviently overlook them. hack.

  • alfredd
    October 03, 2012 - 16:53

    it is just woderful to see people have not foregotten a lesson hard learned, -- the fluff and expensive useless initiatives of P.E.T.----glad to see that thinking people do not endorse 'Camelot' as presented last night with beautiful wife, - hugs and kisses for [public consumption, - and of course to round out the picture, - THE KIDS --- Oh arn't they just so cute, - surprised Mamma Margaret was not trotted out too, --- and just to add just a note of sadness, did he not pick that date of his dead brother's birthday --- a lot of lard to go around, ----- imagine if he ever became Prime Minister . As said, anyone need just look to PEI's father/son repeat, and cringe, - lesson learned the hard way. I am trying not toi throw up --

  • Captain Canuck
    October 03, 2012 - 16:17

    Oh, please, God. Noooooo. Go ahead then, fan the dying embers of the Liberal party with a cup of cappuchino. I can see him in the cast of Friends or Another World, but he has no business stealing his father's cachet, for whatever THAT's worth.

  • lol
    October 03, 2012 - 12:28

    raven haired? sounded like a description from an old Harllequinn romance book...............lol times 10

  • karma
    October 03, 2012 - 10:29

    Still waiting for the steak - wife sizzles though! Shakespeare said it best ' much ado about nothing'

  • Arnot
    October 03, 2012 - 10:02

    There are a lot of truths written here, about what happened in Canada's recent history when Justin Trudeau's father was Prime Minister. Is he his father? There is bound to be some in him...we all have a some of our fathers & mothers qualities, but mostly we are our own person's. A mix of our history and present. I was a not brought up in a household that thought not to dearly of Piere Elliot Trudeau, for many of the reasons mentioned. I was therfore not a fan either, but reflecting back at some other aspects of his government(s), he had some worthy concepts. Certainly when you compare the idealisms of today. He believed in one whole nation (right or wrong) of many peoples and languages. He believed in a nation of people, not of countries within a country, such as we have now with provinces and territories. That was a major problem for him. He believed that government policy was not to be dictated to by the corporate world, or the U.S. He believed that services like passenger train & plane services should be provided to all areas of Canada , not based on making money - based on nation building. He believed in a balanced, equitable medical system for all Canadian's. Once again "provinces" and their durisdictional rights got in the way, making for the have and have not medical systems in Canada. Debts...for those of us over 50 - do you remember on PEI, prior to the hated "Trudeau years" beginning (1967), what it was like here. The majority of secondary roads were clay; the ferry service needed serious improvement; the airport was a joke, hospitals weren't much better; there were still party (phone) lines on the Island, the power grid was shakey at best. It's a long list. Transfer payments to provinces like PEI allowed us to catch up to the 20th Century quite quickly and improved our overall standard of living. When you create dedt to help citizens in this way, you also help the corporate world. That's the kind of trickle down you want. Not the other way - the Tea Party way.

    October 03, 2012 - 08:21

    A good start and about time.Our country is going down the toilet and now people are dieing from eating Canadian beef.These Tories have to be part of what gets flushed away.Those who don't land in jail.

  • Bill Kays
    Bill Kays
    October 03, 2012 - 07:42

    This is another comment (Oct 2, 22:19) NOT made by me. I did not like PE Trudeau. His son is spoiled and arrogant. I think Justin has no charisma and do not feel that he can lead the country.

  • you asked for it
    October 03, 2012 - 07:29

    I think the caption should have read, "my friends will do better."

  • Not Another
    October 03, 2012 - 07:00

    We had one Trudeau for a numbere of years and do not need another although he did some good he also hurt us in many ways.The last thing we need is a father son team like the Americans had with the Bush duet.Young Trudeau would just be an exstension of the old club of Trudeau,Chretian ,Martin whom we all paid the price for.Time for new blood and time to get rid of the Harper government our country needs new fresh leadership who doesn't bow to Quebec.

  • Garth Staples
    October 03, 2012 - 06:23

    I hope the Guardian doesn't make it a habit of printing a daily diet about the greatness of another Trudeau. Trudeau Sr with Pearson started the deficit/debt spiral in this country and divided the country like no other. Thems the facts.

    • amazed
      October 03, 2012 - 12:44

      You shouldn't cite facts in error it shows either ignorance or blindness. The only surplus the Tories ever posted was the one left by Paul Martin a good Liberal.Tories cut and slash everything that is for the common good and then leave a record deficit while the richest get richer.

  • SG
    October 02, 2012 - 23:17

    Can it get any Better? Trudeau and Drama not what Canada needs. The Party that has a Candidate who comes from an ordinary background, had to work for a living, got ahead the hard way, sincerely wants to make a positive difference for Canadians and Canada and commits to implementing Recall Legislation will have my vote. I don't believe that Candidate is Justin Trudeau. Good Night.

  • Thats great
    October 02, 2012 - 22:40

    Thats all we need .Another silver spoon fed son of an average former leader riding in to save the day on his daddys shirt tail!. The seed from a large oak doesn't always produce another fine tree.(Just look at the Gizzes down on PEI!!) What we need is a no nonsense ,common sense type leader,one that has lived like the average joe but has the connections and power to MAKE THINGS HAPPEN. Someone the World will respect. I wonder what that former Newfie leader is up to these days? Hey want a job Buddy!

  • Please
    October 02, 2012 - 21:40

    He's running for a party that's not even on the map! Good Luck-and if Canada wants to learn anything from PEI the Younger Ghiz is a joke in comparison to his father!

  • Bill Kays
    October 02, 2012 - 21:19

    Great. His father almost bankrupted the nation by forcing the French agenda into every corner of this huge country, let's see if his spoiled son can do the same thing with some more style. Canadians had better not be so easily charmed by charisma as to think this guy can lead the country.

  • PEI knows it doesn't work out very well
    October 02, 2012 - 21:17

    Well if he was more like his Father than his mother he might be able to do something. Maybe they should get Ben Mulroney to run against him. The liberals are finished for sure. The real leaders like Manley and MacKenna are not interested yet because there is still to much freeloaders like PEI's very own three stooges. Has beens and wanna bee's. thanks eh