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Liberal star-power at Concordia

by Archives January 15, 2008

Pierre Trudeau may be gone, but the spirit of Trudeaumania lives on. While Justin Trudeau was at Concordia yesterday to talk about poverty, for the crowd of mostly young women who lined up for a moment with the former Prime Minister’s son, it was more about getting a picture.
Trudeau was joined by former Habs goalie turned Liberal MP Ken Dryden, to promote the Party’s “30/50 plan.” Introduced by Liberal leader, Stéphane Dion, last November, the plan commits the Party to reducing poverty in Canada by 30 per cent and child poverty by 50 per cent, within five years – if they win the next election.
The two were big on promises but there were few specifics as to what the plan would entail. According to Dryden, who is traveling across the country to promote it, “the most important details are already there, the 30/50 plan, the specific targets.”
He says that by focusing on targets instead of specific programs, the plan will be adaptable to actual needs. Dryden did give some specifics: increasing the child tax benefit; supporting affordable childcare, housing and public transit.
He also said a Liberal government would honour the Kelowna accord – a five-billion-dollar agreement between the federal government and Aboriginal leaders. The agreement, reached in 2005, was cancelled when Stephen Harper’s Conservative Government took office.
But the anti-poverty plan was not the only thing on the agenda at Monday’s speech, there were also frequent reminders that an election is probably on the horizon. Both Trudeau and Dryden used the opportunity to take shots at Harper. “It’s easy to succeed if your own success is all that counts, just set the bar low,” said Dryden. “That’s the problem I have with the current government.”
Dryden said that if Harper was in the position of John A. McDonald, “he might say, ‘we’re going to build this railroad and we’re going to do it decisively. We’re going to deliver, not beginning in Montreal but … in Halifax and build it all the way to – Antigonish [N.S.].’… when he does get to Antigoish he’ll be able to say, ‘I delivered, we’re a success.’ And to anyone else who tries to make it all the way to Vancouver but only gets as far as Calgary or Cranbrook [B.C.] he’d be able to say, ‘you’re a failure, you’re a promise breaker.’ Even if vastly more people would be far better off for the try.”
Trudeau, who will be standing for his first election in the Montreal riding of Papineau, echoed Dryden’s sentiments: “this idea that we set out small priorities, and only hit them is what we’ve come to expect from politics.”
“No wonder people are cynical, no wonder people are disillusioned,” he concluded.
Trudeau said that Canadians should be “thinking big” and perhaps in reference to his father’s legacy, said “Canada can be an example, a model…[Canadians need to] believe in something real, believe in something big, believe in the Canada we’d all like to imagine but that in reality we are less and less like. We think of ourselves as engaged global citizens…good guys in the world, U.N. peacekeepers…our civilized polite balance to our neighbours to the south. There’s this role we like to play, the reality is: not true anymore.”

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