Justin Trudeau stampedes into Calgary
CALGARY -- You can feel a buzz under this big tent.
One guy wants him to sign a copy of the Charter of Rights.
Others would like to relate a word or two about happier times or some real or imagined connection from the past.
Some just want a quick handshake or snapshot.
Yes, many among the much-suffering Liberals long for a saviour and a number of them hope they may have found one.
Justin Trudeau isn’t making his mind up on whether he wants to run for the federal Liberal top job until the end of summer, after a vacation with his family, a break beginning Sunday.
“As much as I enjoy the personal support and the popularity, I’ve been programmed all my life to discount people who hate me because of my name and therefore I have to discount people who love me because of my name,” says the man who might become Liberal leader and who knows where from there.
Trudeau says the decision is “very personal” and “based a lot on what my family has to say about it.”
“The time I’m going to spend with them is really at the centre of it. The other reflection is really one of practicality. Am I the right person for the job?”
“There’s a sense if I wanted the job the polls show I’d have a good shot of getting it, but am I the right person?”
You cannot take a few minutes without asking Justin about his father.
“He left politics when I was only 13 and my brothers were 11 and 9. He raised us as an incredibly active and present dad.
“The quality time we got with him shaped us. Indirectly, he gave us the tools to handle the legacy he knew he was going to be passing along.”
But there are clear differences between father and son and Justin does not hesitate to make them known.
“I’m glad to say I have an awful lot of my mom in me. I like people to a level I think he had to condition himself to do. He was very much focused on being an academic and an intellectual.
“I’m quite smart,” smiles Justin. “I’ll let other people decide how smart.
“But I’ve never been wrapped up in books. I’ve got two university degrees and I do well but I’m not an intellectual in the classic Michael Ignatieff, Stephane Dion, Pierre Elliott Trudeau aspect of it.
“I’m much more of a people person in my smarts and in my approach.”
Trudeau says, as a teacher, he tries to work through problems and find the right answer rather than just look to “the answer I generate or bring up.”
He aims his ammo at the political new shiny toy, the NDP’s Thomas Mulcair.
Trudeau disses Mulcair as being much like Harper, calling the new NDP boss “very much top-down, imposing in his personality and in the way he runs his ship.”
“He’s anchored in the left in the way Mr. Harper is anchored in the right.
“He’s trying to bring the party towards the centre but fundamentally it’s a polarizing choice between two sides of the same coin.
“Stephen Harper and Thomas Mulcair are the same thing just at different ends of the spectrum.”
Trudeau goes further and says while Harper anchors himself in the West, and “to a certain extent” runs against the East, Mulcair anchors himself in the East and runs against the West.
“He’s trying to make nice noises but we really saw where his ideology takes him.”
Trudeau admits he tries “not to emphasize the past too much.”
In these parts this is a good thing.
He knows enough geography to concede Reform was a response to people not feeling respected or connected or getting accountability from Ottawa.
He says he’s not against oilsands development. He sees the “economic potential” but is critical of the “devastation of the land” he saw on a trip up north four or five years ago.
Trudeau says it’s now important to “make sure we’re doing it right” in the oilsands and acknowledges “the pressures companies and this country are facing from external forces.”
He also does point out 40% of the jobs created by the oilsands are outside Alberta.
“It’s an important driver of the economy and we have to respect it.”
Back to the Stampede. More flesh to press.
Like it or loathe it, you can feel the buzz. The photographers do their thing, smile and say Trudeau knows the game.
A Liberal loyalist under the big tent tries to navigate through the scene.
She looks at all the action and spits out the word.
Is Justin Trudeau capable of being prime minister?
Yes, he would make his father proud
No, he would ruin the Liberal party
I don't care about him either way