Response to ‘Justin Trudeau not the answer for Liberals’

Contributed photo
Contributed photo

When Justin Trudeau became the leader of the Liberal Party one year ago, he was elected by Liberals to bring a new approach to Canadian politics. By engaging with Canadians of all walks of life — students included — he signaled that any Liberal government he leads will be fundamentally different from Stephen Harper’s approach to governing; the one-man-show that values loyalty and doing what one’s told. Trudeau has shown a commitment the free exchange of ideas and the engagement of all Canadians to find what’s best for Canada.

Others, such as the author of last week’s op-ed “Justin Trudeau not the answer for Liberals,” disagree that Trudeau is best for the Liberal Party. While some might wish to only pronounce on a party’s choice of leader, I instead offer why the Liberal Party as a whole, led by Justin Trudeau, is the best choice to lead Canada following the 2015 election.

Trudeau has already shown that he’s willing to listen, even when the issues raised are controversial. The Liberal Party, under Justin’s leadership, has endorsed the legalization of marijuana, a policy that began with grassroots Young Liberals. Trudeau has also spoken in favour of electoral reform that will allow voters to rank candidates on their election ballots. Both of these policies were put forward and widely supported by grassroots Liberals voting at the Liberal convention in 2012.

Further demonstrating a more inclusive leadership style, Trudeau has already surrounded himself with some of Canada’s best and brightest policy experts. Whether they are economic leaders like Bill Morneau and Jim Carr, military experts like General Andrew Leslie, or renowned journalists like Chrystia Freeland, accomplished Canadians are coming together to work with Justin Trudeau to craft and champion the policies that reflect the real priorities of Canadians.

And on the topic of policy, don’t let Trudeau’s naysayers fool you; he has taken principled stands on a range of issues. He recognizes the economic benefits of getting our resources to market when he supports the Keystone XL pipeline. However, he acknowledges that environmental and Aboriginal concerns must be considered at every step of the process, leading him to oppose the Northern Gateway pipeline that has failed to do this. Moreover, it was Justin Trudeau that championed our human rights and freedoms in a scathing rebuke of the Parti Québécois’ Charter of Values. Again, it was Justin Trudeau that noted that the key to a strong economy is a skilled workforce by promising to raise postsecondary attainment to 70 percent.

What Trudeau has done, however, is come forward for a frank discussion with Canadians. He’s shown that he wants to work with Canadians of all political stripes to build a Canada that makes our hopes and dreams a reality. That’s the essence of the Liberal mantra, “Hope and Hard Work.”

Contrast this with a Harper government that is more interested in buying votes with short-sighted and harmful tax credits than it is in grassroots engagement; in telling Canadians what they want instead of asking. The very phrase “Harper government” gives one indication that Harper is uninterested in engaging with the Canadians he is supposed to represent. The slew of anti-Trudeau attack ads telling Canadians what they want also indicate how the Harper government is disengaged and out of touch.

Justin Trudeau’s Liberals, myself included, believe that Canadians deserve better and are offering a real alternative, one where each one of us has a role in shaping the country we call home.

It was telling that last week’s op-ed trashing Justin Trudeau focused only on the leader, reading as if leaders are always the all-powerful figures within a party. The author is hardly alone in expressing this sentiment. Perhaps the reason why so many think this way is because our generation has grown up under almost a decade of Stephen Harper’s one-man-show.

It’s time for a change in Ottawa; to bring a new kind of leader to the Prime Minister’s Office and a new team to the Cabinet; ones who engage and understand the issues our generation is facing and is willing to look at evidence and research to make certain that our Canada will be greater than the one our parents had. Canadians and Liberals alike have expressed hope. Now it is time for hard work.

Dillon McGuire is the Executive Vice-President of the WLU Young Liberals.


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