It was exactly one year ago today that Justin Trudeau was elected Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada.
Following a campaign that opened the Party to greater public involvement than ever before, more than 105,000 Canadians cast leadership ballots. Justin earned an overwhelming 80 per cent of that support, igniting a fresh sense of excitement and rejuvenation in Liberal ranks.
A year later, the positive mood continues. Membership sales and fund-raising have never been better. Thousands of new volunteers are being recruited and trained in local constituency associations from coast to coast. Excellent candidates are contesting nominations. Platform ideas are being refined, most especially at a vigorous national policy convention in February. The shape and depth of a potential new government are becoming more evident.
Public polling over the past year shows Liberals have moved from third place to first in popular support. Most important are the numbers indicating lots of growth potential still to be realized. In recent by-elections, Liberals have done consistently well -- including encouraging outcomes across the West in places like Calgary-Centre, Provencher and Brandon-Souris.
Justin Trudeau has been front-and-centre driving this momentum. He has devoted an important amount of his time to meeting face-to-face with Canadians in their home communities, outside of Ottawa's artificial political "bubble". Since last April, he has attended nearly 500 events in hundreds of different places, touching every corner of Canada.
Smart and tough, he is showing remarkable stamina and the capacity for hard work. He's also durable enough to withstand the worst attack-ads and personal abuse thrown at him incessantly by Stephen Harper and Thomas Mulcair. The petty vitriol flowing from both the Conservatives and the NDP is actually a great tribute to Justin's strength and standing. He has them spooked.
More than any other contemporary Leader, Justin Trudeau is able to engage and motivate Canadians. He rallies people to reach beyond the grinding mediocrity of the past eight years -- to strive for excellence around an exciting new vision of what this country has the capacity to become.
One branch of that vision is sharply focused on sustained and sustainable economic growth to bolster the well-being of the middle-class and all those who are working so hard just to get there.
Their incomes have been stagnant for far too long. Three-quarters don't have access to employer-sponsored pension plans. Two-thirds of middle-class parents worry that they won't be able to afford post-secondary education for their children, and their kids may not be be able to do as well as they did. For young Canadians, there are 200,000 fewer jobs today than before the recession, five long years ago. That's just not good enough for Canada's future.
Another branch of Justin's vision is about a thriving democracy.
That's why he's fighting Stephen Harper's "Unfair" Elections Act -- because it will disenfranchise thousands of voters, suppress others, muzzle the ability of Elections Canada to promote democracy, and cripple the investigation and prosecution of electoral fraud.
Strengthening democracy is also the reason why Justin set the template for pro-actively disclosing MP expenses (which other political Parties and even the House of Commons administration have since adopted). And his non-partisan approach to the Senate actually accomplished more genuine Senate reform in one morning than anyone else has been able to achieve in their entire careers.
And one final point, in dealing with all these issues, Justin is consistently hopeful, positive and optimistic.
Politics shouldn't be a sour competition among unhappy people about who can make voters angrier. It should, instead, be about who and what to vote FOR, and the greater country we can build together for our children.
That attitude is Justin Trudeau's greatest advantage.
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