Depicted as its showcase event by the Liberal Party of Canada (LPC) the event was also a venue to thank outgoing interim leader Bob Rae. Former liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin addressed the audience of 1500, criticizing Stephen Harper on his dismal treatment of aboriginals.
While the event was short on a long term vision, filled with buzzwords like fiscal responsibility, sustainable economy and a better Canada, not one of the six candidates laid out a plan on how to get from point A to B. The common theme of all speakers was the demonization of the Conservative Party and specifically Stephen Harper.
Deborah Coyne called Stephen Harper's
Canada diminished and insignificant. Trudeau called it mean spirited and unambitious, while Martin Cauchon talked about the divisive politics of the Harper government.
“You see, the biggest problem with Mr. Harper’s government is not that they’re mean-spirited. It’s that they are unambitious,” he charged. “After all, what is the Conservatives’ economic message these days? That Canadians should be happy we don’t live in Europe?”
Martha Hall Findlay, who called herself the underdog in an erratic speech, said that it was odd that in her door knocking campaign the really grumpy people turned out to be conservatives.
Justin Trudeau was the fourth candidate to take the stage. His entrance was full of fanfare, reminiscent of the appearance on the national stage of his famous father Pierre Trudeau, who was Canada's prime minister for two decades.
Trudeau quickly got to the point in an energetic speech.
He presented himself as a son of Quebec, a grandson of British Columbia and a servant of Canada. After a short attack on NDP leader Thomas Mulcair, whom he dismissed as emulating the Conservatives in the politics of division, Trudeau moved on to take aim at Stephen Harper and his Conservatives.
“Canadians are getting tired of the negative, divisive politics of the Conservatives and are disappointed that the NDP, with Mr. Mulcair, has decided that if you can’t beat them, you might as well join them,”
Trudeau said that he would never trade western resources for eastern votes and that he has probably learned more from Canadians in the last six months than Harper has learned in six years. His speech was filled with buzzwords like hope and hard work, highlighting positive and optimistic. It was just short of Obama's Hope and Change campaign.
Mr.Trudeau said his government would never “use Western resources to buy Eastern votes.” And his biggest applause came when he talked about his sense of his country and how he has toured Canada for the last six months, learning more from Canadians than Mr. Harper has learned in the “past six years.”
Of the six candidates Joyce Murray's platform differed from Trudeau's in her quest for a one time cooperation with the NDP and Green Party to defeat Stephen Harper. Most candidates reject the notion, which appears to be popular among left leaning voters.
Unfortunately Trudeau's final appeal to voters was full of rhetoric, low on substance and high on hope. Liberal party supporters believe they have another gem, similar to Trudeau's famous father. Unfortunately Trudeau, at some point, must present a plan and some substance. The election is still two years away, which will be ample of time for the CPC to define him.
Canada's mainstream media and liberal supporters are frothing at the mouth with joy, thinking a savior has been found. For Justin Trudeau the hard work, should he be announced as the new LPC leader is just starting. While the Liberal Party has closed up to the Conservative Party, according to polls, most of the gains have been at the detriment of the NDP. Trudeau will have to convince the 40 per cent of "grumpy conservative" supporters. Not everyone is pleased with his father's legacy.
Showcase attendees were
able to cast their vote shortly after the candidates completed their speeches. The remainder of eligible registered voters (127,000) can cast their vote, starting on Sunday for the remainder of the week. The new leader will be announced on April 14 in Ottawa.