Citizens for a Livable Cranbrook Society provides grassroots leadership and an inclusive process, with a voice for all community members, to ensure that our community grows and develops in a way that incorporates an environmental ethic, offers a range of housing and transportation choices, encourages a vibrant and cultural life and supports sustainable, meaningful employment and business opportunities.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Michael's Musings

B.C. Boy Justin Trudeau adopts no frills approach as he meets and greets from Cranbrook to Vancouver

By Michael J Morris

Justin Trudeau, the 'B.C. boy' enjoyed celebrity status as he crossed the province on his RV tour of the Kootenays and Okanagan and arrived  in Vancouver where he was surrounded by the media and supporters in the city's West End.

The leader of the federal Liberal Party started his tour in Cranbrook on July 21 with a meet and greet at Rotary Park unusual in politics for its informality. Introduced by Mayor Wayne Stetski, Trudeau then hopped onto the stage dressed in  designer jeans and casual shirt and gave an impromptu speech - a formula that was followed at every stop of the tour with minor variations.

In Creston at Truscott Farms he was presented with a cherry pie, and in Nelson he arrived for the meet and greet  on the city's famous street car with his wife Sophie Gregoire and children Xavier and Ella-Grace.

The no frills approach continued across the province perhaps defining a new political style consistent with the kind of politics Trudeau wants to see in Canada. Based on the reaction from the crowd in Cranbrook and news reports from other communities  he visited, it worked. I just can't imagine Stephen Harper, the prime minister, trying it, although he did wear cardigans at one point.

Hedy Fry, the Liberal MP for Vancouver Centre told The Province newspaper, she believes Trudeau’s popularity is rooted in his authenticity.  “I think he is not like other politicians,” she said. “When people see him there is a deep sense of trust. People just seem to naturally gravitate to him. He is a B.C. boy and British Columbians seem to be warming to him".

Yes indeed, he is a B.C. boy, and although he is the son of Pierre Trudeau, from Quebec, his mother is Margaret Sinclair, the daughter of James Sinclair, a Liberal MP representing Vancouver area ridings from 1940 to 1957, and minister of fisheries from 1952 to 1957. Trudeau also attended the University of British Columbia and taught in the province.

In Cranbrook, Trudeau talked about paddling the Kootenay River with his father and brothers more than 25 years ago, and prior to a meet and greet in Trail, Trudeau and his family hiked to Nelson’s Kokanee Lake, the site where Trudeau’s brother Michel died in 1998 during an avalanche.

Trudeau posed the question along the way: "Why has politics itself become such a dirty word?", in recent years.Answering his own question in part, Trudeau commented that it is always easier in politics to divide, to attack, go negative, calculate where most votes are and practise the politics of division. 

He even admitted elections can be won this way, but he hopes to turn it around despite many advising him that he must go negative.

In Vancouver, in a speech from atop a table at English Bay, Trudeau is reported by The Province as saying, ""What I have seen across the county is people want to reconnect – we want to be once again part of the solution,This is what people are excited about across the country. I’m just an excuse for it. It’s not really about me, it’s about all of you."

In Kelowna, Conservative Party MP Ron Cannan attended theTrudeau meet and greet and told a local newspaper he agreed with several things that the Liberal leader said. "I believe in working together, as Justin advocates.

"What he said, it's hard not to agree with—all comments about balancing the environment and the economy, working together for a stronger future for not only our children, but our grandchildren (as well)." Kelowna-Lake Country voters heavily favoured the Conservative candidate in the 2011 general election; Cannan earned about 57 per cent of the vote.

Good that this MP showed respect and common decency by attending the Trudeau function. Maybe the prime minister will get the message.

As I was reflecting on Trudeau's on the road tour, and the positive reaction, one thing I sensed for sure, and heard it in Cranbrook, folks are fed up with the present negativity and general goings on in Ottawa in the Office of the Prime Minister and the Duffy Senate affair. This was confirmed in news reports from across the province in each place Trudeau visited.

In the midst of my musings I received an email from a friend who is a pretty astute observer of the national political scene. He commented in part  that the Tories are a "bit nervous" and I agree as their negative attack ads have so far flopped. However, my friend added that he is not sure we are as ready for Justin as we were for his father in the late 1960s. 

Again I agreed as one who covered the "Trudeaumania" election campaign in 1968 as a reporter and editor and witnessed it first hand -- but hold on to your seats folks, in my view the son re-ignited the flame on this RV tour. Let's see how brightly it now burns.

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Full disclosure: I am not now and never have been a member of the Citizens for a Livable Cranbrook Society; however, I did conduct a workshop for its members for which I was paid.

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