Trudeau not prodded into race

Repeats stance during speech to city Liberals


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He seems to be the people's choice to lead the federal Liberals, but Justin Trudeau isn't ready to take his cues from the polls just yet.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 11/06/2012 (4004 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

He seems to be the people’s choice to lead the federal Liberals, but Justin Trudeau isn’t ready to take his cues from the polls just yet.

“I am under a lot of pressure to reconsider. For now, I haven’t,” Trudeau told the Free Press at an event Sunday night. The Winnipeg South Federal Liberal Association (WSFLA) hosted a speech by the 40-year-old media darling.

Trudeau recently found himself the front-runner in an Ipsos-Reid poll that asked respondents if they had positive impressions, negative impressions or no impression of Trudeau, interim Leader Bob Rae, and four other possible contenders for the Liberal leadership.

Winnipeg Free Press John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press Justin Trudeau secures a boat after a trip on the Red River before his speech Sunday.

More than a third of respondents (35 per cent) reported a positive impression of Trudeau, while only 18 per cent gave the same review for Rae.

Trudeau has repeatedly stated he has no plans to run for the party’s leadership — and reiterated that stance in Winnipeg.

“My decision is very much focused around my responsibilities as a father. I’ve always been able to draw a bit of interest and attention wherever I go in the country and I’m pleased to see that continue,” he said.

The Montreal MP drew a crowd of about 150 people to the Pembina Highway Pony Corral for Sunday’s event.

“It’s extremely important that the Liberal party keeps doing what it’s been trying to do over the last year, which is get out of the Ottawa bubble and connect with people as much as we possibly can,” Trudeau said, to exuberant supporters.

“You can argue that over the last few years we haven’t been particularly successful. Let’s talk honestly here.”

The event, intended to boost membership in the Liberal party, attracted many notable Manitoba Liberals, such as Manitoba Liberal Leader Jon Gerrard, former MP Anita Neville and deputy Winnipeg mayor Justin Swandel (St. Norbert).

“He’s an exciting, young force,” Gerrard said, minutes before Trudeau spoke. “Based on his family history and his energy, he could be really good for the Liberals.”

He is the son of former federal Liberal leader Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister from 1968 to 1979 and again from 1980 to 1984.

Trudeau is considered to be one of the party’s most exciting forces, hailed as a dynamic and young presence in the otherwise aging Liberal landscape.

A political figure noted for his environmental advocacy, he spoke for about 30 minutes, easily winning over the boisterous crowd with talk of uniting the country once more against the “hierarchal Conservative government” or the “socialist model” of the NDP.

“Right now we’re playing up East versus West, urban versus rural, French versus English. All those divisions that people are choosing to wedge for political gain are making us weaker and making the country weaker,” Trudeau said.

Trudeau took a short boat ride along the Red River with Swandel to see the construction progress on Investors Group Field, soon to be the new home of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers football club.

“He’s a neat guy… very down-to-earth. He wasn’t shy to chip in and help out. He was up there untying the boat and getting stuff done,” Swandel said.

Trudeau mingled with people for about an hour after speaking, delighting many who came to get a look at the charismatic Liberal. “He’s basically the rock star for the party,” said M.J. Willard, who ran in the riding of Portage-Lisgar for the Liberals in the last federal election.

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