10/04/2015 16:28 EDT | Updated 10/04/2016 01:12 EDT

Harper appeals to 'worst instincts,' Justin Trudeau says at large rally

BRAMPTON, Ont. — Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau staged a massive rally Sunday in Brampton, Ont., where he positioned himself as a builder of bridges to counter Conservative Leader Stephen Harper's habit of dividing the country.

Speaking in a local sports and entertainment complex, Trudeau said it was time to end the Conservative government's practice of pitting Canadians against each other.

"The prime minister's job is to bring Canadians together, not to tear us apart," he told a crowd filled to the rafters of the Powerade Centre.

"For 10 years, Stephen Harper has never missed an opportunity to divide Canadians. East against west, urban against rural, French against English, so-called old stock Canadians versus newcomers. His first instinct is to appeal to the worst instincts."

Trudeau's message to Brampton is a carefully calculated one. The city is one of the most diverse in the country and has seen its population more than double in the last 20 years, growing to more than 520,000 people.

It may also be key to unlocking the doors to power. It is located in the 905-belt that surrounds Toronto, a highly coveted, vote-rich region.

The rally was the only scheduled event of the day for Trudeau and came hours before a planned briefing on the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks in Atlanta. Trudeau has accused the Conservative government of conducting the negotiations in secret.

The Canadian Press