This article originally appeared in the Belleville Intelligencer: http://www.intelligencer.ca/2012/06/05/paint-ridings-red-trudeau
Paint Riding Red: Trudeau
By: W. Brice McVicar
Canadians need to regain their belief that they can elect an effective leader, but Justin Trudeau doesn’t want to be one.
The Papineau MP was the guest speaker at the Prince Edward-Hastings Federal Liberal Association’s annual general meeting where he addressed approximately 200 party faithful.
During his speech, Trudeau made only a brief mention of the lingering question of who will lead the federal party in the next election. He emphatically told media following his speech that he has no interest in taking on the role.
When asked who should lead the party, Trudeau said he’s not sure.
“I don’t know yet. I know I’ve said a whole bunch of times it’s not going to be me and I will keep saying that,” he said. “However, the kind of leader we need is the kind that’s going to move beyond politics as usual. I know when the leadership race starts some time in the fall there will be a lot of interest in how the Liberal party is going to position itself outside the same old cynical polarization we’ve had up to now in the House.”
Trudeau — whose father, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, served as Canada’s prime minister from 1968 to 1979 and again from 1980 to 1984 — said there needs to be a change in the idea that there are Band-Aid solutions to all problems. Dealing with matters in the short-term is no longer acceptable, Trudeau said, adding he believes Canadians are still in the mood of picking the least worst party, rather than trying to determine who will bring society to a better place.
While Liberals had held local ridings for years, that has changed in recent elections and Trudeau admitted his visiting the local riding is a reflection of the party’s recognition that they need to get those ridings back to the colour red.
“I wouldn’t be here if we didn’t consider that there’s work to be done right across the country. We don’t want to be the party that picks its regions saying ‘This is too hard,” he said. “There is a hunger right across this country of people who know that we can do better and we deserve better.”
However, doing better doesn’t mean uniting with the NDP, he said.
“I think it’s a terrible idea. I think that, first of all, there’s no studies that indicate the Liberals are the second choice of most New Democratic voters or that the New Democrats are the second choice of most Liberal voters,” he said. “More than that, mathematically, I think you’d probably lose as many votes on the right of the Liberal party as you’d gain when you move left. Other than that, the two parties are of very, very different bases.”
Trudeau said the NDP have put in power a leader — in Thomas Mulcair — who is no nonsense and is trying to drag the party to the centre and has no interest in negotiating with the Liberals when they are in a position of “weakness.” Should the Liberals get back into a position of strength, he added, they won’t be interested in negotiating with the NDP.
Regardless, he said, the main thing Canada needs now is residents to have confidence in themselves to choose better leaders.
“If we can get rid of and get beyond the cynicism that people have around this idea of public servants and expecting the worst and, therefore, getting it… If we can move beyond that, then solving all the other big, insurmountable problems suddenly seems a little more surmountable,” Trudeau said.