ALBERTA

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau Speaks In Calgary

02/06/2015 04:00 EST | Updated 04/07/2015 05:59 EDT
CALGARY - Federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau is in Calgary today for a speech on the environment and the economy to the Canadian Club.

Trudeau also spoke to party faithful in the city on Thursday night, slamming Prime Minister Stephen Harper for his assertion that Trudeau distrusts and dislikes the military.

Trudeau said the prime minister's remarks to an Ontario radio station were an insult, not just to him but to the 18 armed forces vets who are running for the Liberals in the next election.

Harper's comments were in reference to the Liberals' decision last fall to oppose Canada's participation in airstrikes against Islamic extremists in Iraq.

He criticized Trudeau for saying Canada should be involved in providing humanitarian aid to Iraq instead of "trying to whip out our CF-18s and show them how big they are."

Trudeau said Thursday he has deep personal respect for Canada's armed forces.

He began his speech with a lengthy tribute to Harjit Singh Sajjan, a celebrated military vet and star Liberal candidate in Vancouver. Sajjan served in Bosnia and three tours in Afghanistan, becoming the first turbaned Sikh to command a Canadian army regiment.

"Let's honour those who have fought and died for our democracy by keeping it healthy," said Trudeau. "We can debate each other's policies but not each other's patriotism."

Trudeau also spoke about the economy and his contention that Harper has mismanaged it — a recurring theme for the Liberal leader in recent weeks as the collapse in oil prices sucks billions from the federal treasury and stifles economic growth.

Harper, who hails from Calgary, has not been a champion of Alberta, Trudeau maintained. Indeed, he argued that Harper's refusal to mollify American environmental concerns and tackle climate change has made it impossible to build the pipelines Alberta needs to get its oil sands crude to tide water.

A Liberal government would "get serious about climate change" and work with allies like the United States to ensure Alberta's resources get to market and get a fair price, he promised.

Trudeau has not spelled out his own plans for the economy but he offered a few vague hints in Thursday's speech, promising to fix the Canada Pension Plan "so that it can provide an adequate pension" and to give "tax relief to middle-class Canadians who really need it, like those who have trouble keeping up with the cost of living."

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