Justin Trudeau's acceptance speech - Macleans.ca

Justin Trudeau’s acceptance speech

‘Audacity and ambition, always’


The prepared text of Justin Trudeau’s speech upon being elected leader of the Liberal party.

Thank you, my friends, thank you

Normally I’d start by thanking family and friends for putting up with my absences and allowing me to go off and campaign, but that’s not exactly right. My decision to seek the leadership was never in spite of my responsibility to my family, but because of it. And therefore family and friends were always at the very heart of this campaign. We did this together.

Thank you Sophie.

Thank you Xavier et Ella-Grace.

To my fellow candidates, Joyce, Martha, Karen, Deborah, Martin, David, George and Marc, and to the thousands of Canadians who worked on your campaigns, I want to say: we are not adversaries but allies. Your courage, intelligence and commitment will continue to bring honour to the Liberal Party of Canada.

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And for the health of this party, the hard work he has done, I want to thank from the bottom of my heart, my friend, my colleague and a great Canadian Bob Rae. Bob, we continue to need your leadership, your wisdom and your unparalleled commitment to the country and to our party.

This has been a great campaign. We are fiercely proud that it has been fueled by volunteers. More than twelve thousand Canadians stepped up. Thank you for your  dedication to making this wonderful country even better.

Like every effective organization, this one has had principled, brilliant, and generous leadership. Katie Telford and Gerald Butts. My friends and compatriots. Thank you for what you’ve done, for what you’re doing and for what we are going to do together. Rob and Jodi, George, Aidan and Ava, thank you for sharing Gerry and Katie with us.

My fellow Liberals, it is with great respect for those who have stood in this place before me, and great resolve to do the hard work required in front of us, that I accept, with humility, the confidence you have placed in me.

Thank you. All of you. For your trust. For your hope. For choosing to be part of this movement we’re building. And on this lovely spring evening in our nation’s capital, I am honored to stand with you, proud to be the Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. Je suis fier d’être le chef du Parti libéral du Canada.

My friends, this is the last stop of this campaign. But the first stop of the next one. Over the past 6 months, I have been to hundreds of communities from coast to coast to coast. I’ve met, talked with, and learned from thousands and thousands of Canadians.

And because of your hard work, more than one hundred thousand voters have sent a clear message: Canadians want better leadership and a better government. Canadians want to be led, not ruled. They are tired of the negative, divisive politics of
Mr. Harper’s Conservatives. And unimpressed that the NDP, under Mr. Mulcair, have decided that if you can’t beat them, you might as well join them.

We are fed up with leaders who pit Canadians against Canadians. West against East, rich against poor, Quebec against the rest of the country, urban against rural.

Canadians are looking to us, my friends. They are giving us a chance, hopeful that the party of Wilfrid Laurier can rediscover its sunny ways.

Hopeful that positive politics has a fighting chance against the steady barrage of negativity that you and I both know is coming soon to TV screens across Canada. The phone messages, our volunteers tell us, have already started.

To adapt a sentiment from the great American President Franklin D. Roosevelt: never before in this country have the forces of negativity, cynicism and fear been so united in their hostility toward one candidate.

The Conservative Party will now do what it does. It will try to spread fear. It will sow cynicism. It will attempt to convince Canadians that we should be satisfied with what we have now.

For at the heart of their unambitious agenda is the idea that “better” is just not possible.

That to hope for something more from our politics and our leaders, more humanity, more transparency, more compassion, is naive and inevitably, will lead to disappointment.

And they will promote that divisive and destructive idea with passionate intensity. They will do so for a simple reason…
They are afraid. But… And I want to make this perfectly clear… My fellow Canadians, it is not my leadership that Mr. Harper and his party fear.

It’s yours.

There is nothing that these Conservatives fear more than an engaged and informed Canadian citizen.

My friends, if I have learned one thing in this life, it’s that our country is blessed with countless numbers of activist citizens, from all walks of life, and of all political views. They have come out by the thousands over the course of this campaign.

They’ve gathered by the hundreds in places like Ponoka Alberta and Oliver BC, Prince Albert Saskatchewan and Île-des-Chênes Manitoba. Canadians who thought they were sending community leaders to be their voice in Ottawa, but instead got only Mr. Harper’s voice back in their communities.

We’ve seen their hopeful faces in crowds of Canadians gathered in Windsor and Whitby, Mississauga and Markham. Middle class Canadians who are putting much into the economy and getting too little in return.

We’ve seen hard-working Atlantic Canadians from Edmunston to Halifax, from Summerside to St John’s, who have decided that this is a government that does not share their values.

To my friends in Labrador, I look forward to seeing you very soon.

We’ve met young Aboriginal leaders from all across this country, from Tk’emlups to Whapmagoostui, who are simply tired of being forced to the margins of this country. With the courage to walk 1600 kilometres through a Canadian winter to make the point that they will be Idle no More.

Francophones who live in Shediac, Sudbury, St Boniface and all across this country who want their children to live and thrive in French, your determination inspires me, it must inspire the entire country.

Quebecers, from Gatineau to Gaspé, who want to re-engage with this country. With their country. Who have no time for the divisive issues of their parents’ past, but want to work with Canadians who share their values to build a better country for all our kids.

I want to take a moment to speak directly to my fellow Quebecers. Your engagement and your support in recent months has been deeply moving. I have learned so much from our conversations and our meetings I take nothing for granted. I understand that trust can only be earned. And my plan is to earn yours.

I feel confident about the future. I want to share with you why

Quebecers have always been builders. From Champlain and Laurier to today, they have actively participated in shaping our country, together with so many other Canadians. Our work is not complete. We face enormous challenges

Helping the middle-class make ends meet. Reconciling economic growth and environmental stewardship. Playing a positive and meaningful role in the world.

To rise above these challenges we must demonstrate our audacity and ambition, my friends.

Audacity and ambition, always.

Lets be honest. We will not convince everyone. There will always be skeptics. People who say that our country is too big and too full of differences to be effectively managed, or for everyone to be represented. They are wrong my friends.

I am not claiming that it will always be easy. That there will not be any obstacles along the way. That we will not have to make some compromises.

Canada is a grand, yet unfinished project. And it is up to us, together with all Canadians, to build the country that we want.

The time has come for us to write a new chapter in the history of our country.

Let’s leave to others the old quarrels and old debates that lead nowhere. Let’s leave to others the ultra-partisan rhetoric and the old ways of doing politics. Let’s leave the personal attacks to them.

Quebecers, let us be, together, once again, builders of Canada.

So that our country can match the height of the dreams and ambitions that are shared across this country. So that we can leave our children a better world than the one that we inherited from our parents.

My friends, the Liberal Party will regain the confidence of Canadians when it proves that it is here to serve them. This is the task at hand. This is what will guide me as Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada.

To the new generation of Canadians and to all the young people who are not engaged by politics, I have a very simple message for you.

Your country needs you

It needs your energy and your passion

It needs your idealism and your ideas

The movement we are have been building over the past 6 months, it is yours. It belongs to you.

It is the movement with which we will change politics.

It is the movement that will allow us to reform our political institutions, to make reconciling the environment and our economy a real priority, and to play a positive and constructive role in the world.

My fellow Liberals, Canadians are looking to us. This campaign has been their campaign, more than just ours.

They want something better. They refuse to believe that better is not possible. They see the country their parents and grandparents worked so hard to build, and want to hand an even better country to their children.

Canadians share deep values that cannot be shaken, no matter how hard the Conservative Party may try. Optimism. Openness. Compassion. Service to community.

Generosity of spirit.

We want to believe that change can happen. We want leadership that will shape our best instincts into an even better country.

But Canadians will not suffer fools gladly. Canadians turned away from us because we turned away from them. Because Liberals became more focused on fighting with each other, than fighting for Canadians.

Well, I don’t care if you thought my father was a great or arrogant. It doesn’t matter to me if you were a Chretien-Liberal, a Turner-Liberal, a Martin-Liberal or any other kind of Liberal. The era of hyphenated Liberals ends right here, tonight.

From this day forward, we welcome all Liberals as Canadian Liberals. United in our dedication to serve and lead Canadians.
Unity not just for unity’s sake, but unity of purpose.

I say this to the millions of middle-class Canadians, and the millions more who work hard every day to join the middle-class…

Under my leadership, the purpose of the Liberal Party of Canada will be you. I promise that I will begin, spend and end every day thinking about and working hard to solve your problems.

I know that you are optimistic about us, but cautiously so. You are, after all, Canadians. You know that hope is a fine thing, but that without an equal measure of hard work to back it up, it will be fleeting.

So I know that you will judge us by the tenacity of our work ethic, the integrity of our efforts, and, come 2015, the clarity of our plan to make our country better. That is as it should be.

I know how lucky I have been in my life. Lucky, most of all, to have learned so much from so many Canadians. To learn that, above all else in this country, leadership means service.

I love this country, my friends, and I believe in it deeply. It deserves better leadership than it has now.

So let us be clear-eyed about what we have accomplished. We have worked hard and we have had a great campaign. We are united, hopeful and resolute in our purpose.

But know this: we have won nothing more and nothing less than the opportunity to work even harder. Work even harder to prove ourselves worthy of leading this great country.

We should be deeply, deeply grateful for that opportunity. As your leader, I fully intend to make sure we make the most of it.Change can happen. Canadians want leadership that will work with them to make it happen.

Be hopeful my fellow Liberals. Work hard. Stay focused on Canadians. We can lead the change so many people want.
A better Canada is always possible.

Together, we will build it.

Thank you.


Justin Trudeau’s acceptance speech

  1. Justin said:

    “We are fed up with leaders who pit Canadians against Canadians. West
    against East, rich against poor, Quebec against the rest of the
    country, urban against rural.”

    Yes, Justin, we are fed up too. We are fed up with the pretense shown within your speech. It was you, Justin, who has said so very clearly, who has said so very adamantly, that Alberta values are not the right values for Canada, but that Quebec values have served Canada well.

    Je me souviens!

    • I don’t actually know of anyone (other than Albertans) who think that Alberta’s values are right for Canada.
      Au contraire, ma veille!

      • Your comment is right up Justin’s alley. He must be so proud of you!

      • But the values of a trust fund baby from an elite Montreal family are the right values for Canada? Give me a break.

      • The Liberal Party of Canada’s id, exposed for what it is: Albertans are icky.

    • that’s not at all what he said – you’re lying. Get it straight. He said that it wasn’t good for Canada to be run from Alberta, and he was absolutely right. Harper (a rich Torontonian) was used by rich American oil guys who settled in Alberta. He’s the worst thing EVER to happen to Canada. We are being run by oil executives in Alberta. And I live here.

      • Yes, Albertans are icky. The oil industry is evil, and everyone who works in it and for it is evil.
        And all of Canada’s oil companies are actually run by Americans, not Canadians. Look it up — there’s not a single oil executive in Calgary who is actually Canadian.
        I’m not making this up.

  2. Great speech. Guess we are going to have to stop calling you a young man now that you are in your forties, LOL! Canada needs a strong Liberal Party. A strong Opposition is the heart of democracy, and every would be tyrant knows it. Whether the Liberals get to be the ruling party is largely irrelevant to the all-important purpose of having a viable Opposition to hold the ruling party accountable. The NDP, for all their good intentions, is never going to be able to do that in Canada, although I do not discount the important and honourable contribution they have made over the years (cf: Corporate Welfare Bums!).
    Harper has everey reason to be anxious. Iggy Pop and Fluffy (Dion) had no spine. Harper is going to have to go all three rounds on this guy, and we have already seen how that worked out for the last guy who got into the ring. The next election will be one for the record books in terms of dirt and drama. May the best policies win!

    • JT has already given his opponents plenty of material;

      In November 2010, Trudeau told a Quebec television show that he was
      tired of Albertans running the country and that, whether it was Jean
      Chretien or Brian Mulroney, Canada is better off when Quebecers are
      running the country.

      “Canada isn’t doing well right now because
      it’s Albertans who control our community and socio-democratic agenda. It
      doesn’t work,” Trudeau said in French to interviewer Patrick Lagace on
      the Tele-Quebec program Les francs-tireurs (The Straight Shooters).

      Lagace then asked Trudeau if he thought Canada was “better served when there are more Quebecers in charge than Albertans?” Trudeau
      replied: “I’m a Liberal, so of course I think so, yes. Certainly when
      we look at the great prime ministers of the 20th century, those that
      really stood the test of time, they were MPs from Quebec… This country
      – Canada – it belongs to us.”

      • Is that anything like Stephen Harper telling the world that Canada is a third-world welfare country?

      • Yup, Trudeau is sure going to lose the Liberals seats in Alberta.

        • Yeah, who cares about Albertans anyway. They don’t vote Liberal, so they’re not even real Canadians.

      • I’m sure there’s much more to come also. It would appear that the press was giving Junior a free pass for many years when he was simply another backbench MP. Now that he’s leader, people will be combing through all of his past musings and bringing them to light. Considering how much thought he puts into the things he says, I suspect there will be a lot of stupid things to come out.

  3. Reconciling economic growth and environmental stewardship

    You mean they aren’t mutually exclusive?

    Now that is a pretty resonant plank, right there.

  4. “Like every effective organization, this one has had principled, brilliant, and generous leadership. ” And I’m here today to announce an end to that brilliant leadership!

  5. It seems clear that the first barrage of attacks ads from the Conservatives is starting right here via these comments. How typically Conservative to focus on the negative and ignoring the positive. Surely, your partisanship does not require you to deny your humanity.

    • Yes, if you don’t support Justin Trudeau, you’re denying your humanity.

  6. So, let’s see about this new openness of the Liberals which Justin Trudeau spoke of.

    I sent the following e-mail to the new Liberal Leader:

    Monday, April 15, 2013

    Justin Trudeau,

    Congratulations on your very impressive victory, Mr. Trudeau. I would like to take you up on this new openness of the Liberals which you spoke of in your acceptance speech.

    I would like the Liberal Party to look at a matter of Liberal origin that, to this day, routinely impacts Canadians right across Canada.

    I would like the Liberal Party to make available and explain to the Canadian public all documentation pertaining to the addition of cannabis to the schedule in 1923, with reference according to Hansard, The House of Commons, Debates, 1923, page 1136, the 14th of March, 1923, under the title, “Narcotic Drugs Act Amendment Bill:” and, in particular, the House of Commons, Debates 1923, P. 2124 reference: “From the chair: “On the schedule.” . . . “Mr. Béland: There is a new drug in the Schedule. . . . “Bill Reported, read the third time and passed.” and in light of the following supplemental references and considerations.

    The 2002 Report of the Special Senate Committee on Illegal Drugs: Cannabis makes mention of this on page 256 of Volume II, Part III, Policies and Practices in Canada:
    “During a sitting of the Committee of the Whole in connection with a review of the 1923 Act, Minister of Health Henri-Séverin Béland simply said about the substance that, “There is a new drug in the schedule.”(35) That is how cannabis ended up in the schedule to the
    Act. According to Giffen, the circumstances leading to the decision remain obscure because, until 1932, the issue of the effects of cannabis on people’s physical, psychological or mental health had never been raised in Parliament. Giffen described the criminalization of the drug as a solution without a problem.” ~ [(35) Hansard, House of Commons, April 23, 1923, page 2117.]

    The authors of Panic and Indifference (Geffen, Endicott and Lambert, 1991, p 179) tell us:
    “Interestingly enough, a draft of the 1923 Bill found in one file made no mention of
    marijuana on the schedule. The file following this contained several carbon copies of the draft. One of these had obviously been put into the typewriter again, and”Cannabis Indca (Indian Hemp) or Hasheesh” had been added to the schedule. Whoever added those words was apparently under the impression that hasheesh was simply a synonym
    for cannabis indica.”

    Interestingly enough, Canada was a British colony at the time of that inclusion and
    Britain did not criminalize cannabis until 1928, nor was cannabis considered an alkaloid, a salt or a derivative or compound thereof.

    Please explain all of the aforementioned and how, in particular, “there is a new drug in the schedule” translated into “cannabis indica”.

    Thank you for your time and consideration of this matter,

  7. I think this speech is good because I am studying at school Justin Trudeau and I think I learned more than I actually need for class:)

  8. Stephen Harper ruined our country and it’s time the liberals regain their glory. I believe in Justin Trudeau and (hopefully) he will do a good job running our country.