Pembroke got swept up in Trudeaumania, The Next Generation when Justin Trudeau, the son of the late former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, spoke at the Germania Club Hall Tuesday night.
About 270 Liberal party faithful filled the hall as the Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke Riding Association hosted an evening with Mr. Trudeau, the Member of Parliament for the Montreal riding of Papineau.
Arriving shortly after 6 p. m., he swept into the hall, taking time to greet Liberal party members before speaking to the media in advance of the dinner.
Mr. Trudeau said he was glad to be in Pembroke, an area he has driven through many times with a canoe on his car’s roof, headed to wilder places. He said he loved the area and was glad to visit in an official capacity this time.
While he did stray into a few partisan comments, Mr. Trudeau’s speech was generally full of vision and ideals.
He admitted, though, it was not about putting forward concrete proposals.
He said Liberal MPs are travelling throughout the country in order to get a sense of Canadians’ fears, dreams, hopes and concerns and to make sure that the Liberal party is listening to what they are saying.
Mr. Trudeau is passionate about engaging Canadian youth in politics.
“If we’re going to start looking at new solutions, looking at a different way of thinking that is going to balance our economy with our eco-systems, look at reducing conflict around the world, looking at dealing with poverty and marginalization here in Canada and around the world, we’re going to have to be bold in our thinking and young people bring in a capacity to think differently, to challenge their elders, to challenge their world and ask tough questions that all of us need to start answering,” he said.
“The more we get young people involved and connected and heard in politics, the more politics starts to change.”
He stated that the current trend of attack-based politics doesn’t help anyone.
“We’re getting away from the heart of the issues of people suffering because of (quick) decisions, or because of pinching pennies. The idea is we should be talking in politics about what is important, not just what is urgent or politically expedient. (We need to get) people involved, and feeling that politics can be about something important, and bigger than just the little gamesmanship that ends up on the front page of newspapers because we have to start talking about the real issues that we are facing,” he said.
He warned that currently the political realm is very divisive. Instead, he suggested it should be about bringing people together.
“That’s the only way we are going to get through some of the big challenges we are facing,” he said.
Throughout his comments and speech, Mr. Trudeau hammered home the message of connecting Canadians and connecting to Canadians.
“What really matters is what individual citizens bring in terms of change. That’s why community is so important,” he said.
He said the point of life is not about accumulating “stuff” but is simply knowing that each individual matters.
“To know that an individual is relative to their peer group, their family, to their community. To know the world is a slightly better place because you passed through it than it would have been had you never existed — is the basic requirement to truly feel accomplished and happy,” he said.
He added we are living in a world and a society that has forgotten that. He believes this has led to people living disconnected lives and looking out only for themselves.
He said Canadians, particularly those in politics, need to be forward thinking and put forward a plan for the future rather than hiding heads in the sand and relying on the same old solutions to current issues.
“Our values of openness, of respect for each other, of a willingness to work hard and readiness to be there if a neighbour is in difficulty — these are the things that define us, and make us a tremendously-successful country but that’s something that I suspect we’ve been forgetting recently,” he said.
He stated that being Canadian makes us luckier than 99.5 per cent of the rest of the world that isn’t Canadian, but with that luck comes responsibility.
“If we were given these advantages, if we worked hard to gain these advantages, then we need to say, ‘OK, what am I going to do with these advantages? How am I going to make sure that what we have is leveraged into something better for everyone.’ How are we making sure that Canada takes its role as a generator of solutions for the world,” he said.
The speech made by the charismatic MP resulted in a standing ovation from area Liberals.
Mr. Trudeau has an extensive background in youth work as well he is very involved with the Canadian Avalanche Foundation promoting intelligent risk taking and safety awareness, and wilderness groups such as the Nature Conservancy of Canada and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society.
Local riding association president Gail Richardson said that while the event was a fundraiser, “this evening is also a celebration for us here in Renfrew-Nipissing- Pembroke because we’re on the move and we’re growing. We’re very excited. We’ve got our new leader and we’re delighted to have Justin Trudeau here with us to represent the party and to help us as we move forward.”