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Trudeau enters, suddenly, stage left

At a rally in Brampton, the Liberal leader happily draws some unlikely connections between his two chief rivals


 
Former prime minister Paul Martin introduces Liberal leader Justin Trudeau during a rally Tuesday, August 25, 2015 in Brampton, Ontario. Paul Chiasson/CP

Former prime minister Paul Martin introduces Liberal leader Justin Trudeau during a rally Tuesday, August 25, 2015 in Brampton, Ontario. Paul Chiasson/CP

When Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau stepped inside the main room of the Embassy Grand Convention Centre, in the Toronto-area riding of Brampton East that many believe will be a tight three-way race, knocking down Prime Minister Stephen Harper wasn’t going to be enough. No. Trudeau also had to give good reasons why people should opt for his Liberals instead of the NDP. The best way to do that, it appeared, was to show how NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair and the Prime Minister align.

Finding similarities between New Democrats and Conservatives is, usually, not all that easy. However, Trudeau’s fodder came over the last 48 hours, during which Mulcair declined to take part in a debate about women’s issues—following Harper’s rejection of the same invitation—and also when the NDP leader promised, if elected, to have a balanced budget his first year in office.

On the stage, Trudeau went on the attack. “Why does [Mulcair] want to take billions of dollars of the economy in a recession? And what public investments will he be cutting to do that?” Trudeau asked of the NDP leader. “Mr. Mulcair has no answers. He confirmed that today when he signed on to Stephen Harper’s economic pulse.”

“We all know that Mr. Mulcair doesn’t get it,” Trudeau added, quickly realizing he mixed up this line (or his opponents). “Sorry. We all know Mr. Harper doesn’t get it, and now we know Mr. Mulcair doesn’t get it.” Trudeau deftly regained his footing, saying of his two political rivals, “You confuse the two sometimes.” Cue the laughter and applause.

After the Liberal leader left the stage, happily engaging in handshakes and selfies with the adoring crowd, the message of comparing Mulcair with Harper rang consistent with local MP candidates.

“There’s not much of a difference between Harper and Mulcair, at this point in time,” said Azim Rizvee, a Liberal candidate in the Milton, Ont., riding, within 30 seconds of chatting with Maclean’s. “You can’t even differentiate where the Harper plan ends and Mulcair’s begins.”

Of course, that isn’t at all true.

The NDP and Conservatives have drastically different stances on crime, democratic reform, pensions, taxes, and virtually every issue on the campaign. But if Liberals are going to scare people away from voting NDP, comparing Mulcair to Harper is an obvious tactic.

That’s not to say Harper’s policies were ignored on this night. While Conservative attack ads consistently claim Trudeau is “just not ready,” Trudeau countered with the exact opposite. “We know the Conservatives,” he said. “They’re old. They’re tired. They’re out of ideas. They have no plan for the economy or how to create jobs.”

With dozens of Liberal candidates from the Greater Toronto Area on hand, Trudeau also brought along a special guest for his tour on Tuesday: former prime minister Paul Martin. As finance minister under Jean Chrétien’s Liberal government, Martin produced five consecutive surpluses, and his mere presence gave a heightened sense of credibility to the event. “This is their deficit. They created it before the 2008 recession,” Martin said of the Tories.

When a woman in the front row interrupted Martin in the middle of his talking points on the Canada Pension Plan, the former prime minster halted mid-sentence to acknowledge her discontent with the current Prime Minister, repeating her words to the masses. “This woman said that Harper has got to go,” Martin exclaimed. “Is she right?” He couldn’t help but smile at the cheers.

“I’m appalled by Harper’s record on democracy and the environment—especially climate change,” said Jan Stanley, who brought with her to the rally Trudeau’s Shadow, a collection of essays about Trudeau’s late father, Pierre Elliot Trudeau, just in case a book-signing opportunity presented itself. Her husband, Len, one of the few in attendance not wearing red, said he isn’t the kind of person who loves the constant cheering, but even he conceded he got a little revved up during Martin’s speech.


 

Trudeau enters, suddenly, stage left

  1. C’mon….you can do better than this.

  2. Paul Martin?
    Really? Mr. “everything is a priority” just vote for me…is the best they can do.

    Now, I know paul Martin is the guy who takes credit for eliminating the deficit and balancing the books (good job at that)…but the least he could do is tell those in attendance that he managed to do this by lifting the economic policies / solutions straight from the REFORM PARTY handbook.

    Oh…and that policy that got rid of the defict? it was written by a young economics major…..named Stephen Harper.

    Harper’s ideas got rid of the deficits and balanced the books…..Paul Martin and the LIberals just took the credit for it. Same for the Clarity Act….harper wrote that too.

    Most journalists know this, but admitting it, or writing about it would most definitely go against the narrative. (though to be fair, at least Chantal Hebert noted Harper wrote the Clarity Act)

    • Oh you have really lost it Jamie m’boy……You must have missed the memo from HQ on this! LOL

    • I hate to break it to you, but Harper did not cone up with the idea that a good way to reduce debt is to decrease spending and increase revenue.

      Next you’ll be telling us he invented summer holidays…

      • James is doing his ‘post and run’ routine now that there is a real campaign in place.

        Afraaid he’ll be asked for sources.

    • They also constantly fail to mention that Paul Martin balanced the budget by slashing healthcare transfers to the provinces.

  3. I’m not a supporter but Trudeau is being honest.
    How can Harper and Mulcair promise no deficit with the current price of oil?
    I hear oil prices will remain sub $40 for foreseeable future.
    How important is oil to federal revenues? Are we in recession? If so more revenue cuts.

    • Only some 4% of Canadians are employed in these [rsource] fields, and they account for 6.2% of GDP

    • Well Mulcair could increase taxes, like an increase in the GST, which could allow him to balance the budget. That would be a truly bold platform plank, one that may even convince me to vote for him.

  4. Mulcair will NEVER get my vote! Mulcair refuses to recognize the 2.5 million English speaking population – insulting us all by refusing to hold an English debate during his ‘leadership race’. To this day he ‘refuses’ to communicate in English and continues to vigorously endorse and enforce the criminally enacted language laws – that have totally destroyed not only our Province, City of Montreal – but devastated countless lives that the NO ENGLISH ALLOWED – horrific illegal laws have forced all of us to endure. Laws (sic) that have totally ERASED all our Charter Rights and Freedoms. And this NDP ‘leader”…. dares to bleat he is all about rights and freedoms… to the rest of Canada!! Shame, shame on him. Trudeau gets my vote!!

  5. Trudeau’s even treating Liberals like idiots now. Paul Martin balanced the budget by making MASSIVE budget cuts, particularly to healthcare. And he has the gall to accuse others of dangerous spending cuts? These guys are just shameless hypocrites.

    • i guess you were expecting magic eh? Fairies and unicorns to balance the budget?

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