MEADOW BANK — The lack of understanding that Stephen Harper’s government has shown over cuts to the employment insurance program is ‘a real concern’ for Justin Trudeau.
The Liberal leadership candidate from Papineau in Montreal describes the cuts to a program commonly referred to as EI as an attack on seasonal workers.
“The suggestion that someone should drive hours to find a job that may be more or less suited to them demonstrates the extent to which this current government is simply out of step with the lives of hardworking people in Atlantic Canada,” Trudeau said Monday.
Trudeau will spend two days in Prince Edward Island hoping to win over the hearts and votes of Liberals as they get set to elect a new leader next April.
Trudeau has already secured the support of Cardigan MP Lawrence MacAulay and Malpeque MP Wayne Easter. Charlottetown MP Sean Casey is expected to throw his support behind Trudeau while the Quebec MP is on the Island.
MacAulay believes Trudeau can put the Liberal party back in power.
“We’ve had great leaders,” said MacAulay.
“But we need a man with vision, youth, who cares about the environment and somebody who is not going to polarize one part of the country against another part of the country.”
Easter said he was one of the MPs who were lobbying Trudeau to run for his party’s top job.
“I do think we need generational change in the party,” said Easter. “And I think Justin is just the man to lead the party with that generational change and kind of be more all encompassing for all Canadians.”
Trudeau spent Monday afternoon touring Jewell’s Dairy Farm in Meadow Bank. There he met with about 100 supporters and P.E.I. farmers before attending a meet and greet at the Vanier Centre in Wellington.
Standing in the middle of a dairy barn in Meadow Bank, surrounded by cows, Trudeau acknowledged the challenges facing the Liberal party.
“Over the past few years in places elsewhere than P.E.I., the Liberal party has been in trouble,” said Trudeau.
“We’ve lost an awful lot of the connection with Canadians, the level of trust. We’ve gone from the election in 2000 where we had 170 seats, the following election we were down to 135, the election after that we were down to 100, the election after that we were down to 75, the election after that down to 35.
“Mr. Harper has demonstrated time and time again that he is not open to the needs and even hopes and dreams of Atlantic Canadians,” - Justin Trudeau, Liberal leadership candidate
“I’m sorry guys that’s a straight line that ends up with one seat, because I’m not losing Papineau ... one seat and all of P.E.I.”
During an interview with The Guardian, Trudeau also raised concerns about what he described as “monkey business” and patronage at ACOA, fleet separation policies which he said was influenced by Stephen Harper’s big business friends, as well as his attacks on EI.
“Which demonstrates that neither he nor his minister actually understands the way EI works and is supposed to work,” he said.
“Mr. Harper has demonstrated time and time again that he is not open to the needs and even hopes and dreams of Atlantic Canadians.”
... More on this story in the print-edition of The Guardian on Tuesday.