Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Trudeau calls for an end to cynicism

Thrills crowd at gathering in Maples

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It was Trudeaumania 2.0 in Winnipeg as federal Liberal leadership candidate Justin Trudeau asked people to join with him to change Canada and politics for the better.

Trudeau, speaking before a crowd of more than 300 Liberals and interested Winnipeggers, said the politics of divisiveness would be tossed aside if Liberals make him their leader.

"I truly believe that we all need to stand together," Trudeau said. "We need to make sure this Conservative government doesn't continue to bring this country in a direction we don't want to.

"People are tired of being cynical about politics. There is an opportunity now to get people involved.

"There's a new day coming in Canada. You can feel it... we want all to be part of that change. With your help the Liberal party can lead that change."

Afterwards to reporters, Trudeau admitted that the Tory party has been very good in recent years at savaging Liberal leaders, but he's not worried it will happen to him.

"Canadians are tired about the negativity of politics," he said.

"I know I'm taking a gamble, but I believe Canadians will respond to ideas and won't be swayed by nastiness."

Several times during the speech it was hard to say whether Trudeau is running for leader of the party or is already looking ahead and in campaign mode for the country's top job.

Many people in the crowd -- especially the younger ones who are a few years shy of being able to vote -- are hoping Trudeau is somebody they can vote for someday.

"Oh my God, I just got a photo with him," said 16-year-old Mary-Mac Gramiak to her friends as she watched the photo come up on her friend's iPad.

"It's better than an autograph."

Gramiak said she would come out to hear Prime Minister Stephen Harper speak, but "he wouldn't have the same effect on people my age."

Nearby, 20-year-old Jeff Homer, one of a trio of young people together in the crowd, said "it's nice to have a Liberal leader that we are excited about."

"I always tend to see myself vote for an idea than a person, but this is the guy who represents my ideas," said 20-year-old Nathaniel Flaten.

Ten-year-old Taryn Edgeworth and her nine-year-old sister Shay were there thanks to their dad Reid.

"I wanted my daughters to come here to get a sense of who he is," the elder Edgeworth said.

"I think he will be part of the Canadian political landscape for the rest of their lives."

Taryn herself said: "I want to hear what he has to say -- he sounds important."

Trudeau was greeted like a visiting rock star by far more people than the Punjab Banquet Hall on Mandalay Drive is likely licensed for.

"It has been a long time since I've seen so many Liberals in a room," said lone Manitoba Liberal MP Kevin Lamoureux and Trudeau's Manitoba campaign organizer.

"It's really amazing the response we have here. People underestimate the potential the Liberal party has here in Manitoba. It wasn't that long ago in 1993 Manitoba Liberals held 12 of 14 seats here.

"There is a very wide base of support for the Liberal party here and with Justin Trudeau it has been re-energized."

Sprinkled in the crowd were Liberal politicians past and present including former MPs Otto Lang and Anita Neville, Manitoba Liberal Leader Jon Gerrard, and former provincial Liberal leader and Court of Appeal Justice Charles Huband. Other politicians included city councillors Dan Vandal and John Orlikow.

"This is not really about me -- it is about you," Trudeau told the crowd that clapped boisterously several times through the speech.

"It is about Canadians hopeful and hungry about something better... we can work together and take back our politics."

kevin.rollason@freepress.mb.ca

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Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 21, 2012 A3

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