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Trudeau packs TRU's Grand Hall in Kamloops visit

Justin Trudeau speaks to a crowd of 600 in Kamloops on Jan. 21, at Thompson Rivers University. Trudeau is the first of several Liberal Party of Canada leadership candidates to visit the city this week. - ANDREA KLASSEN PHOTO/KTW
Justin Trudeau speaks to a crowd of 600 in Kamloops on Jan. 21, at Thompson Rivers University. Trudeau is the first of several Liberal Party of Canada leadership candidates to visit the city this week.
— image credit: ANDREA KLASSEN PHOTO/KTW

If nothing else, Justin Trudeau's Monday night (Jan. 21) stop in Kamloops showed
he's capable of drawing a crowd.
About 600 people packed the Grand Hall at Thompson Rivers University
for a session with the Liberal Party of Canada leadership hopeful on as
he fielded questions on Idle No More, university tuition costs and his
plans to defeat Prime Minister Stephen Harper, should he lead the
party into the next election.
Trudeau, son of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, told the crowd
he sees federal Liberal leadership as a chance to remake
Canadian politics after years of cynicism.
"It's all about voting against," Trudeau said of Ottawa politics,
which he thinks have become more polarized and focused on point
scoring and power grabs in recent years.
"You accept the least-worst of the options out there."
Trudeau said his goal is to bring Canadians together to work on
national issues - in particular to address what he calls a
stagnating middle class, whose incomes haven't grown at the same rate
as the country's overall economy.
"There is a breakdown in the idea of progress," he said, "and that's
because our middle class isn't sharing in the success of this
country."
He was also critical of the Harper government, which he said has
focused on "the sexiest Band-Aid" rather than looking at long-term
solutions to the country's problems because it's more concerned with
keeping power than engaging citizens.
"We have a breakdown of the trust that is supposed to exist between
the government and Canadians," he said. "This has to change."
When questioned by the crowd about specific changes, however, Trudeau
stayed away from laying out official policies.
"I'm not so worried or preoccupied with mechanisms," he told one young
woman, who asked whether he would support the creation of an act
earmarking a portion of federal transfers for post-secondary
education.
Trudeau said his campaign is more about setting general themes.
"It's more this is where we're going, come with me and we'll build a
path together," he said.
Trudeau said he wants the federal government to have a larger role in
education, but it would need the support of the provinces. He said his
priority is to lower tuition costs for students with the greatest
financial need, rather than an accross-the-board drop.
He also praised the Idle No More movement, calling it "an
extraordinary opportunity" for the government to work with First
Nations, came out against the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline
(though he said he's staying neutral on Kinder Morgan's pipeline
expansion for now) and made a pitch for preferential ballots, should
Canada ever consider electoral reform.
In return, the audience offered him a standing ovation.
Trudeau is the first of several Liberal leadership candidates headed
through Kamloops.
David Bertschi will meet supporters on Tuesday, Jan. 22, at 10 a.m. at
the Red Beard Coffee Shop at 449 Tranquille Rd. in North Kamloops.
On Wednesday, Jan. 23, leadership contenders Martha Hall Findlay and
Karen McCrimmon will speak at a public event at 5:30 p.m. at Hoodoos
restaurant at Sun Rivers.

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