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article imageOp-Ed: Can Justin Trudeau break the conservative grip on Alberta?

By Karl Gotthardt     Jan 28, 2013 in Politics
Edmonton - Alberta is Conservative Party country, with Prime MInister Harper's conservatives holding 24 of 25 seats. Liberal leadership hopeful Justin Trudeau is trying to break that pattern with recent campaign stops in Alberta communities.
While winning the hearts and minds may be difficult for any Liberal in Alberta, it is not an impossible task. Given the changing demographic of the population in Alberta and the recent election of Premier Allison Redford, a former UN human rights lawyer, who is more progressive than conservative, Justin Trudeau or any other liberal candidate can succeed if he can convince Albertans that he is all inclusive.
Albertans don't want to be taken for granted. While the conservative brand has been successful in Alberta, many voters, especially in the urban centers of Edmonton and Calgary, are more in line with the main stream Canadian public. They often feel that their voice is not being heard, especially with the pattern of MPs voting along party lines. While the conservatives can never be written off in Alberta, the glass ceiling can be broken.
The Trudeau name brand
When it comes to the Trudeau name brand, Albertans have a long memory. Of particular relevance was was the long fight with Justin Trudeau's father, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, who imposed the National Energy Program on Albertans.
The imposition of the National Energy Program (NEP) brought out calls of western alienation, which was the notion that western provinces had been alienated, if not excluded, from main stream Canadian political affairs in favour of Ontario and Quebec.
With the NEP still leaving a bad taste for those Albertan's old enough to remember. Justin Trudeau added fuel to the fire with comments he made during a 2010 interview, suggesting that Canada's problems are a result of Albertans controlling the “socio-economic” agenda. Liberal Member of Parliament (MP) David McGuinty made similar remarks, calling Alberta MPs shills for the oil companies, suggesting that they go home. Trudeau later apologized for his remarks.
Trudeau takes his campaign to Alberta communities
Justin Trudeau made several campaign stops in Alberta communities this weekend, visiting Edmonton, Vegreville and Bonnyville on Saturday and a couple of stops in Calgary on Sunday and finishing off in Medicine Hat on Monday.
His message in all venues was similar. Trudeau said that the was trying to change that perception, whether he has good perception or not.
"This country is not about picking and choosing the areas that you think you might be popular in. It's about connecting and building a broad sense of where this country needs to go. Maybe there is something big happening in politics again, maybe there's room for each of us to get involved."
While many of the liberal attendees were enthusiastic about Trudeau, others were not impressed and said that Trudeau was too young, too inexperienced and more about style than substance.
According to CBC former Liberal candidate during last year's election, Ron Williams had some advice for Justin Trudeau:
"Don't equivocate. State where you stand on the issues and why that is your belief," Williams said.
That comment by itself shows the sentiment of most voters. Tell us what you stand for and what it is that will make our life better.
In Calgary making reference to the conservative majority government he said:
“This is about people being excited about politics once again.
“People feeling that for the first time in a long time, there is an opportunity to move away from the cynicism that has characterized so much of our politics over the past years.”
Trudeau said Canada is more divided now than ever, and if made leader of the federal Liberals, he will work to unite the country.
“The politics of division, of picking winners and reaching out to the regions you want to represent and not just ignoring the other regions, but actively dissuading and discouraging people there from voting for you, unfortunately have been very effective,” he said,
“What we see right now, is you can get elected, even with a majority, by building on and using that cynicism.”
While Justin Trudeau enjoys a big margin in the polls with the other nine leadership contenders, he is bound to face stiff competition from Marc Garneu, a former Astronaut and Martha Hall Findlay, a former Liberal MP for Willowdale, Ontario. All of these candidates will have to convince Albertans and the remainder of Canadian voters why they can do a better job than the conservatives. Alberta may be listening.
The new leader of the Liberal Party of Canada will be announced on April 14, 2013.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about liberal party of canada, Justin trudeau, Alberta, conservative party of canada, Canadian Politics
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