Mark Clairmont | MuskokaTODAY.com
Photos by Lois Cooper | MuskokaTODAY.com
PORT SYDNEY — Four years ago when the son of a former prime minister came to Bracebridge, he filled the Sportsplex with hundreds of people.
Last year, when the daughter of another former prime minister came to the same town, she could barely fill half a conference room at the Quality Inn.
Today, both son and daughter are in government and having quite different effects on Canadians. Allowing voters to compare their campaign promises with their performances as ministers.
A lot has changed since. Because it’s 2019.
Last night in Port Sydney, the son returned with the same result — a sea of red washed upon the flooded shore of Mary Lake — and with the same stump speech as echoed by his nominated candidate Trisha Cowie.
In a more refined and relaxed talk to about 200 people at the Port Sydney Community Hall, in a room filled with hope — and signs that said the same — he framed his argument for re-election around the same political pillars he used in 2015.
“ … Anxiety, in Canada and around the world,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“People see climate change, people see poverty, people see conflict, people see challenges around migration. People see all sorts of stresses coming from their rapid pace technological change, as people wonder if their jobs are going to carry them to retirement. What kinds of jobs and future their kids are going to have.
“It’s a lot of reasons for people to feel anxious. Or at least a little worried about what the coming years are going to bring. What kinds of abilities we’re going to have to meet and overcome the challenges we face as communities, as a country.
“But at the same time every time I see us faced with a challenge …” Canadians meet and exceed those challenges, he said to cheers from the wide demographic cross section of Parry Sound-Muskoka that included a lot young families, yet few if any visible minorities.
He said in 2015 “we took a look at the big challenge the world was facing, the developed world is still facing. This idea that even though we’ve had great growth in our economies and our countries around the world, middle class in our developed democracies seems to have been stalled. That even though profits were up for big companies, that countries’ bottom lines were doing well, ordinary families weren’t feeling like they were getting ahead.
“We decided we needed to do something fundamentally different than what Stephen Harper and the Conservatives had put forward as an idea for 10 years. You see, they were still stuck in an idea that trickle down (economics) could work to grow an economy. That if you give advantages and benefits to the wealthiest and to big businesses, that would somehow create growth and jobs for everyone else.
“Well, it didn’t work. … Stephen Harper presided over the lowest growth rate of any prime minister since the depths of the Great Depression.”
Cowie thanked Trudeau for “all the work you have done to date, and all the work that I know you will continue to do for our community and for all Canadians.”
Cowie said the Liberal Party is “the party that accepts all Canadians equally. … It’s a party that rejects extremism in all of its forms.,” she said to loud applause.
“The party that firmly believes we are better as a country when we build each other up, as opposed to tearing each other down.
“You know, I mentioned by son, Roman, earlier and I did that very deliberately. I often think about what kind of country he is going to grow up in. What kind of country he is going to raise his family in. If I look back to four years ago, very honestly I was very scared.
“We had a Conservative government that muzzled scientists, that ignored the science of climate change, that rigged the system for the most elite in our country. And that trampled on the rights of women, LGBQT and Indigenous peoples.
“The Conservative party has not changed. And I don’t want my son growing up in a country where the government refuses to do anything to try and combat the very obvious signs of climate change. A government that would ignore middle class families and a government that expresses zero concern for recognition for reconciliation.”
Cowie and Trudeau were in full election mode.
She spoke with the mature confidence and conviction she has mastered since first running in 2015.
“She has the fire in her belly to go into the campaign,” said MuskokaTODAY.com’s Lois Cooper.
Trudeau, who didn’t take any questions from the public or media — but shook hands with three-quarters of the people and posed for selfies with a lot of them — was as at his casual best as if at a family reunion or going to the cottage.
Yet, it looked (from videographer Cooper’s attached clips) and sounded like what almost every Canadian will hear until Oct. 10.
Almost like he’s running all over again for the first time.
A middling, middle of the road message, as if nothing has changed in four years. Donald Trump hasn’t been elected. Canada isn’t trapped in a vice-like grip between the U.S. and China. Cabinet solidarity isn’t a question. And political interference is a U.S. thing.
That’s what people in Port Sydney missed.
The prime minister didn’t speak from a position of power. He played it safe, weighted by polls, a divided country and a majority government he daren’t risk.
Its pandering nature was insulting, rote and demeaning at times. Especially to rural constituents who are attuned as never before, enriched and emboldened by social media and a wider understanding of global politics and the leaders.
Don’t misread them. Ask Democrats.
See video clip from nomination meeting:
These were dumbed-down speeches appealing to the lowest common denominator.
Cowie and Trudeau can and will have to do better five months from now.
Canada is on the verge of greatness. It’s no time for politics.
Trudeau and Cowie were sincere and convincing in a poutine and maple syrupy kind of way.
And they obviously resonated with the captive, partisan audience, who were all screened as they came in, and ate it up.
The PM and wannabe MP did appear to genuinely understand Canadians’ “concerns” and “worries.”
And they can be a formidable dynamic duo if they just try a lot harder.
Yet there was no talk about issues of the day: the Green Party win in B.C., or about how cannabis legalization has gone, government infighting, provincial relations, or the hot topic of the day, Vice-Admiral Mark Norman’s vindication.
Since this is likely Trudeau’s only visit to the riding, he should have been more forthright with the limited time he had.
Taking time to thank firefighters is admirable, but so is straight talk.
Now that’s doing politics differently.