Full Text Political Transcripts February 20, 2014: Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau’s Speech at the Opening of the Liberal Biennial Convention

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Speech by Liberal Party of Canada Leader, Justin Trudeau, in Montréal, QC

Posted on February 21, 2014
February 20, 2014

Source: Liberal Party, 2-21-14

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Welcome to my hometown.

Welcome to your hometown.

I was born a Montrealer in Ottawa.

Ottawa was because of my dad’s job, where he served his country. My brothers and I grew up in a house that wasn’t ours. The family was simply passing through Ottawa.

However, when we used to come to Montreal with my father, we could see that he felt at home.

Montreal was his real world. It was our home.

The idea of Montreal made us dream, in our burgeoning imagination as children, it had become a magical place.

And not just because in those days the Habs won the Stanley Cup.

So here I am, a few decades later, a Member of Parliament from Montreal, and it’s my turn to see my children grow up in Ottawa.

This is why I’m so proud to welcome you here tonight.

Each of us has a place called home. Each of us knows that a political commitment and public service starts in his local community.

We are all proud of our homes. We are all ready to justify how it’s important and special.

Let me talk to you about Montreal.

Montreal, the francophone metropolis of the Americas, where people from different origins, different cultures, and different religions came to settle, and where they have lived up to their challenge of succeeding, by coming together.

Make no mistake about it, in Canada, all our big cities have a wonderful diversity. In the Prairies, there are even small towns where there are more cultural communities than found in many countries.

Diversity makes us strong because it requires us to be kind. It requires courtesy, generosity of spirit. It means we have to understand one another.

It has made of Canadians a fair people.

I want Canadians from outside Quebec to know something. I know you worry about how divisions are being stoked in the province these days. How identity politics are generating fear and intolerance.

Well, have faith.

This idea that diversity is strength has never been a foreign idea here.

We first talked about this diversity here, in the St-Lawrence valley, in the French of the New World. From Samuel de Champlain to Georges-Étienne Cartier, from Wilfrid-Laurier to Pierre Trudeau, we have developed it, and we have shared it.

And, together, all across this great land, we made it into the idea of Canada.

To my fellow Quebecers, I say this: we have spent too long in protest. No wonder. For a decade, we have had a federal government that has no answers for the economic problems that feed fear and anxiety.

When progress stalls, fear moves forward. And fear can only be beaten back with hope.

There’s a man in the audience tonight who has fought for that idea as much as anyone ever has. A friend, a colleague, a mentor, an inspiration, a fellow Montrealer (and soon, a full time volunteer for the Liberal Party of Canada).

This will be Irwin Cotler’s last convention as a Member of Parliament. Please join me in thanking him for all he has done for his community, for his country, and for our shared values.

My friends, a year and a half ago, in the riding next to Irwin’s — my riding, Papineau, I kicked off my campaign to lead our party.

I launched the campaign on a simple, important idea. The idea we just heard Chrystia and Larry Summers wrestle with.  The idea I need you to focus on all weekend; that if we do not give everyone a real and fair chance to succeed, than we are not living up to this country’s basic premise.

You see we have a real problem. The middle class is in trouble. People haven’t had a real raise in 30 years, while inequality has increased, and household debt has exploded.

Those who practice the politics of division see in this an opportunity to exploit. An opportunity to sow fear and mistrust. To point fingers and lay blame.

It’s much easier to distract people from this problem, than it is to solve it.

People are susceptible to fearful, divisive messages when they are worried. Worried about their jobs, their debts, their retirement, their kids’ future.

Let’s be perfectly clear, in a rich and prosper economy, to force someone to choose between their religious principles and their employment, would be not only unacceptable, but simply inconceivable.

In a growing and fair economy, the Parti Québécois’ divisive plan would not only be unrealistic, it would be unthinkable.

But in the absence of a real and fair chance, fear and division can take root anywhere.

My friends. I have no interest in joining Mr. Harper and Mr. Mulcair in a competition to see who can make Canadians angrier.

And neither should you.

Last year, during our leadership campaign, together with my colleagues, we got hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens interested in politics.

Many of them, for the first time.

Contrast that with Mr. Harper’s party. This month his Government introduced an Act in Parliament that would make it harder for Canadians to vote.

For me, the legislation can be summed up as this: the government will let you vote, if you insist.

But really, they’d rather you didn’t.

Mr. Harper’s party thinks that Canadians don’t care. That we won’t bother.

Look around you. Look at the new faces in this room. Look at all the people you have never met. Find strength in each other. Have faith in each other.

Together, we are going to prove them wrong.

Millions of Canadians, some watching tonight, are counting on us.

Let’s let them know: we won’t let you down.

We are gathering at a critical moment for our country.

The conversation we will have this weekend is particularly important.

While some people are trying to distract us from the key issues, I am asking you to stay on course. Let’s leave our opponents to continue worrying about our success, and we will worry about the success of Canadians.

I would ask you to look down the road at the big picture that presents itself in front of us, and to reflect on the country that we will be leaving to our children.

We are here to hope. We are to work hard. We are here to build. We are here put together the team and the plan to make this country better.

That’s why this weekend, in this city (my city), matters so very much.

After 8 long years, Canadians are tired of Mr. Harper’s party and of their negative approach to politics. Canadians are tired of the politics of fear and division.

But they don’t just want a different government. They want a better government. They want a government that is focused on making sure each and every Canadian has a real and fair chance at success.

We Liberals are going to build the team and the plan, and provide the leadership Canada needs to make it happen. Let’s be ambitious, not for ourselves, or for our party, but for our country.

My friends, we all have personal reasons for being here. People who are dear to us. Places that matter to us.

For me, there are three people in particular. Well, three for now. But really, really close to four… In fact, Sophie could give birth at any moment. Which is why, even though she really wanted to, she couldn’t be with us tonight.

In fact, if you don’t mind, I thought it’d be nice to give her a call.

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Canadian Political Headlines February 20, 2014: Justin Trudeau kicks off Liberal convention with partisan speech

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