Trudeau: Liberal Party 'resonating across the country'
Andrea Janus, CTVNews.ca
Published Wednesday, November 27, 2013 12:03PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, November 27, 2013 6:08PM EST
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said his party proved it is “relevant and resonating across the country” with its showing in Monday’s byelections, but said Canadians will have to wait until after the Liberals’ policy convention in February before they will hear specific policy platforms on the economy and other issues.
Trudeau made the remarks flanked by his two new MPs who had easily held on to their party’s traditional strongholds: Emmanuel Dubourg, in the Montreal riding of Bourassa, and Chrystia Freeland, in Toronto Centre.
Dubourg and Freeland joined their fellow Liberal MPs for the first time at their weekly caucus meeting Wednesday morning. The two winning Conservative candidates from Manitoba -- Larry Maguire (Brandon-Souris) and Ted Falk (Provencher) -- also made their Parliament Hill debuts at caucus.
Trudeau was asked by reporters when he would unveil a more detailed economic platform now that Freeland has been elected. Trudeau appointed Freeland to his new economic council of advisers months before the byelection.
Trudeau said his party’s strong showing Monday night-- when it also vastly improved its vote share in the two Manitoba ridings-- proves voters are watching him and the Liberals. He added that an economic platform will be unveiled “sooner rather than later.”
“We are relevant and resonating right across the country,” Trudeau said. “Canadians are eager to hear more. They want to see what a Liberal government is going to look like.”
Freeland said she and council co-chair Scott Brison have already been working to recruit council members, and have been getting input from both the Liberal caucus and the broader party membership.
But serious discussions won’t begin until the party’s policy convention in Montreal in February, both Trudeau and Freeland said, and it is unclear when the specifics will be unveiled.
Despite losing Brandon-Souris by a few hundred votes, Trudeau said he is “proud” of his party’s efforts there.
“The fact that we were on tenterhooks to see if the Liberal Party was going to win into the wee hours of election night in rural Manitoba, really indicates the strong message that’s been put out there,” he said.
“The Liberal Party was strongly competitive everywhere as a national party should be.”
Earlier Wednesday, after the NDP caucus met, Leader Tom Mulcair acknowledged his party has “a challenge in Manitoba,” where it lost vote share compared to the 2011 election.
But he said he was encouraged by candidate Linda McQuaig’s showing in Toronto Centre, where his party increased its vote share by 20 per cent compared to 2011, despite ultimately losing to the Liberals.
“Toronto is going to have more than 60 seats in the next election. It’s a key battleground,” Mulcair said, noting that Toronto Centre will be carved up for 2015.
Of the new Toronto riding of Fort York, Mulcair said: “Linda McQuaig, you haven’t heard the last from her. She’ll be in the House of Commons after the next election with that kind of support.”
On Monday night, McQuaig did not rule out running again in one of the new Toronto ridings in 2015.
As for Quebec, Mulcair said that candidate Stephane Moraille’s strong showing in Bourassa indicates, “that’s going to translate into us maintaining our seats in Quebec.”
The NDP vaulted into Official Opposition status under the guidance of then-leader Jack Layton on the so-called Orange Wave that saw the party pick up nearly 60 seats in Quebec in 2011.
Trudeau came under fire late Monday for evoking Layton’s impassioned plea for civility in politics in a letter the former NDP leader wrote to Canadians that was released after his death in August 2011.
In a victory speech in Bourassa, Trudeau said, “It is the Liberal Party tonight that proved hope is stronger than fear, that positive politics can and should win out over negative.”
In his letter, Layton told Canadians that “Love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear.”
Trudeau’s move provoked a strong rebuke from Mulcair the next day.
On Wednesday, Mulcair told CTV’s Power Play that he was “surprised and disappointed” that Trudeau used Layton’s words.
“It was completely wrong for Justin Trudeau to try to appropriate the legacy of Jack Layton and the NDP’s hard work over the years,” Mulcair said. “If he has things that he is every going to accomplish in his life, maybe we will eventually hear about them. For now he should leave Jack Layton alone.”
Earlier Wednesday, a reporter asked Trudeau whether his use of Layton’s words had been deliberate and, given the backlash, if he would do it again.
“I have spoken at length about Sir Wilfrid Laurier and his sunny ways that inspire me. I have also made no apologies for the fact that Jack Layton has inspired me as well as he has many, many Canadians in his approach to politics and in his dedication,” Trudeau replied.
“And I think the NDP needs to realize that they have strayed very much from the kind of positive focus that many great politicians have pushed in the past.”