Canadian Liberals have a new leader, though the name likely won’t surprise anyone.
Justin Trudeau won the party leadership race with more than 80 per cent of the vote on Sunday night. Yukon Liberal interim leader Sandy Silver is, well, pleased to say the least.
“You couldn’t kick the smile off my face,” Silver said.
While Trudeau’s win appears to have been a non-contest, Silver said there were questions about whether he’d be able to rally support from outside the major urban centres like Toronto that make up his base.
“There was some question as to whether he’d be able to pull off the support outside of Toronto and outside of these main centres where it’s 100 per cent him. It was really nice to see the magnitude of his victory; it leaves him a true leader in many ways. He’s not beholden to any one faction or region,” Silver said.
But now that his coronation is over, Trudeau and the party face an uphill battle against a majority Conservative government that has perfected the art of the attack ad.
The first one has already surfaced on YouTube, with the Tories mocking Trudeau’s fake striptease at a charity fundraiser from 2011. In the video, Trudeau is seen dancing to “What A Girl Wants” and removing some of his clothes on stage.
But Silver is optimistic that Trudeau will be able to rise above the mud-slinging.
“Yeah, they’ll come at him, and he addressed that in his speech. But I look at it this way: you can either focus on the good parts of your day or the bad parts, and that will decide which way your day will go,” Silver said.
“This focus on one candidate is unprecedented. They’re afraid. They’ve seen the writing on the wall. Mulcair taking socialism out of his program and saying he wants to come to the centre as well, that speaks to parties that are scared of the Liberals going back to their grass roots,” Silver said.
During the leadership race, Trudeau faced his strongest opponent in Vancouver MP Joyce Murray who advocated a co-operative election strategy with the NDP in order to defeat the Harper government in 2015.
That idea generated a fair amount of momentum for Murray, but Trudeau has flatly refused any co-operation at all. Silver said he thinks it’s the right move.
“I really think that (co-operation) is the wrong direction, I really do. I look at the NDP, and I don’t think they are the party that can actually co-operate with people from the other political spectrum,” Silver said.
Rather than focus on co-operation during an election campaign, he’d rather see Canadian politicians focus on the principle of co-operation within Parliament.
“Our job as moderates is to be able to co-operate and compromise. There’s been polarization in Canada for the last 10 years because of, in my opinion, two other parties,” Silver said.
Former Liberal MLA Larry Bagnell is also hoping Trudeau can help bring the fractured federal Grits back together.
“I think it’s pretty exciting for the Liberal Party. More people voted for this leader than any other leader of a federal party in history, so that’s a pretty solid public support,” Bagnell said.
Bagnell and Trudeau spent time together in the House of Commons, and he knows Trudeau personally.
“I have a really good relationship with him because of knowing him in the House, which will help me bring things to the North,”
“One of the good things is his emphasis on the North – he’s been here before and travelled a lot in the North. His view on the northern policy is different than the government’s. Rather than focus on the military for sovereignty, he wants to focus on the people of the North, the people who call it their home. If you have a strong people, then you have a strong sovereignty,” Bagnell said.
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