'We need to kick-start growth': Justin Trudeau sits down with Lisa LaFlamme
CTV News has invited all the major party leaders to make their closing arguments before the Oct. 19 election.
On Wednesday, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau sat down with CTV News Anchor and Senior Editor Lisa LaFlamme.
Here’s a transcript of their conversation:
Lisa LaFlamme: Now you've been saying all along, certainly the last few days, ‘Don't look at our polls, look at our platform.’ So we did. And interestingly, the biggest change has been your position on deficits. Now I want to get your thoughts on that. As recently as July, you said: ‘I'm committed to no deficits.’ And then three weeks into the campaign, boom, you're ready to lurch the country back into deficit. So how do you square that?
Justin Trudeau: We're still committed to balancing the budget. We're just going to do it in 2019 instead of right away. The fact is, when I've spoken with Canadians, when I've spoken with mayors across the country, when I've spoken with provincial premiers, the challenge is that we need investment now. You live in Toronto. For so many Torontonians and people across the country, we spend way too much time in traffic. We're worried about our roads and our bridges. The federal government needs to step up and make those investments and that's the decision we've made.
LaFlamme: But with the volatility currently, the age of austerity, how could you possibly know for sure that this is a three-year deficit?
Trudeau: Well, because the economy needs growth. We've had 10 years of the worst record of any prime minister on growth since the Great Depression under Mr. Harper. We need to kick-start growth and that means investing right now in the kinds of things that are going to create jobs and lead to greater productivity, greater opportunities long-term.
LaFlamme: But you've criticized Stephen Harper for running six deficits in a row and yet that's what you're campaigning on.
Trudeau: But he hasn't been able to create growth because at the same time that he's done that, he's given benefits and tax breaks to the wealthiest Canadians instead of investing in the middle class.
LaFlamme: Now, obviously, Canadians have a massive choice on Monday night and certainly, the polls suggest they want change. But they also have long memories. So I want to get your read on the fact that the Liberal Party, that has run this country longer than any other party, with all of its baggage, is supposed to be viewed now as an agent of change.
Trudeau: Well, I think one of the things that I'm comfortable admitting is the Liberal Party went through some very difficult elections over the past decade, over the past 15 years even, because we have disconnected from Canadians. That's why, over the past three years, we have been focused on listening to Canadians, engaging with them, connecting and drawing them back into the political process. We built a party that is almost as much a movement as it is a party, that's focused on the things that matter to Canadians: creating real growth for our economy, strengthening the middle class, and helping those working hard to join the middle class.
LaFlamme: How different is it really going to be? I mean, already in the news today, accusations that your campaign co-chair has been working with companies, trying to help educate them on how to gain access to a new government. So it's accusations of the ‘old boys club’ all over again.
Trudeau: I understand those accusations, particularly given 10 years of a government that has consistently behaved in an ethically suspect and morally questionable way, from Duffy to Del Mastro to a range of people, which is why, even though our campaign co-chair hasn't broken any rules, (he) has stepped down from the campaign. We have to set an extraordinarily high standard if Canadians are going to once again trust that things will change and we've acted on this immediately.
LaFlamme: So you have today, he has stepped down as a result of…
Trudeau: Yes, he stepped down as a volunteer.
LaFlamme: Interesting. OK. Now as an observer, I want to get your thoughts on the bad blood that has existed between you and Thomas Mulcair. Isn't that hostile relationship counter-productive somehow to the campaign of hope that you are campaigning on?
Trudeau: I've demonstrated a collaborative, respectful approach, a positive campaign throughout. I've never made apologies for pointing out differences on policy. I think Mr. Mulcair made the wrong choice in wanting to balance Stephen Harper's budget at all cost. But I've never engaged in personal, negative attacks or disparaging remarks. And I look forward to working with all parliamentarians in Canada's best interests.
LaFlamme: In your morning rally, you were asked in French, ‘Do you want a majority,’ and in French, you said, ‘Yes, I want a majority.’ You have not said that in English. Why are you so reluctant?
Trudeau: Well, I think one of the things we need to make sure that Canadians know is that nobody can take any votes for granted in this country. There is a need to work hard, to earn people's vote. It won't surprise anyone that, oh, a leader of a political party wants to get as many votes as possible from as many different regions of the country. I think that's important, particularly for the Liberal Party, to be a truly national party that we draw in votes from everywhere. But we understand better than most that it's Canadians that get to decide who forms government and what that government's going to look like. And we're working incredibly hard every day to earn people's trust.