Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau says staying positive in the wake of political attacks is the only way towards a government focused on serving Canadians instead of winning elections.

“I believe it’s the only way to actually get to a place where the government of Canada can be really focused on serving Canadians and not on winning and on competing,” he told CTV’s Power Play in an interview that aired Monday.

“Changing the approach to politics for me is as much about demonstrating a capacity to govern for the entire country, and not play the divisive politics that so characterizes politics as we see it now. So for me, doing it this way isn’t just a tactic. For me it’s the only way I think we’re going to be able to solve the challenges we’re facing.”

Trudeau said while cynicism about politics abounds “here in the Ottawa bubble,” he says Canadians are still optimistic “about what politics can be and should be.”

He says “there was nothing easy” about his party’s surge in the polls after he was elected leader earlier this year, but said Canadians are clearly responding to his message.

“This was about hard work on the ground connecting with Canadians, getting out there, listening, engaging, talking about politics in a positive way, creating opportunities for people to feel interested and involved in politics,” he said. “This was an awful lot of hard work and that’s exactly what’s going to continue.”

Trudeau has declared his support for Conservative MP Michael Chong’s private member’s bill that would re-balance some powers between the executive and legislative branches of government.

But he believes “there are a lot of things that we can do to make this place a better functioning place,” from more free votes to strengthening the role of committees to moving away from omnibus legislation.

He’s already made it mandatory that his party hold open nominations for every riding for the 2015 election. To a question of whether that may limit the number of female candidates that run, for example, if he doesn’t set a minimum threshold, Trudeau said he has “challenged every riding association” to identify and recruit strong women and minority candidates.

“But I know that it ultimately needs to be up to the grassroots of the party to decide who gets to be the MP,” he said.

Meantime, he is optimistic about his party’s fortunes in 2015, given its strong showing in the recent by-elections.

“The ground that we’ve broken towards 2015 in terms of being relevant right across the country is significant.”