Liberal Party leadership candidate Justin Trudeau greets supporters at a rally in Mississauga, Oct. 4, 2012.
Credits: REUTERS/Mike Cassese
MISSISSAUGA, ON -- Trudeaumania 2.0 swept into the GTA Thursday night as Justin Trudeau kicked off the Ontario leg of his Liberal leadership bid.
Trudeau received a rock star welcome from a crowd which crammed into Mississauga banquet hall to get a glimpse of the Montreal MP. But the 40-year-old heir apparent to Parliament’s third-party throne was dogged by questions about whether he is a substantive candidate or banking on his famous name.
“(People) will have the next six months and hopefully the next years after that to watch me, to engage with me, and to see the solutions we’re going to start building together,” Trudeau said after delivering an energetic stump speech to supporters.
During the speech, Trudeau acknowledged that his candidacy has drawn a “passing interest” from the national media.
He told supporters that interest will fade and then they will be left with the hard work of trying to win the leadership this April.
“We can’t forget that, despite all the excitement of the last few days, we have a mountain of work ahead of us,” he said. “Canadians are fair, honest and decent people. They will give the Liberals a chance. If we earn it.”
Trudeau repeatedly mentioned the erosion of the middle class in his speech. He pointed to the rapidly growing middle class of China, India and Brazil, and said Canada is falling behind.
“It is the middle class, not the political class, that unites this country,” he said to cheers.
Trudeau did not mention his father, Pierre Elliot Trudeau, but the spectre of the former prime minister loomed large, even for some of the youngest participants.
“I’m here to support Justin because I really liked what his father did for multiculturalism,” said 17-year-old Gurtek Gill.