I was fortunate enough to attend a Liberal fundraising event featuring Justin Trudeau on Friday, April 24th. It was held at the Royal Glenora Club here in Edmonton and involved a sit-down dinner amidst various speeches including the keynote address by Justin.
Truth be told, before hearing him speak I had very little idea of Justin’s background apart from being the son of Pierre Elliott Trudeau and a new Liberal MP. Before entering politics, Justin taught social studies and French to high school students in Vancouver. With his abilities to engage and captivate his audience, to provoke further thought and discussion of the ideas presented, and to inspire people to act, one can easily see how he would have been a phenomenal teacher and will continue on as a great politician.
Justin spoke very well on what he sees as the problems facing our nation and commented on the need to not only talk to, but to listen to, the people who’ve become disillusioned and apathetic about Canadian politics. Namely, the youth in Canada: those who are new arrivals to the political scene of our nation and need to have their interest nurtured so they remain engaged. The challenge, though, is to do so without alienating the people who’ve been long-time members of the Liberal base. A recurring theme in Justin’s speech was “the capacity to imagine” which I feel is exactly how we’ll accomplish this feat. All people, young and older, are capable of imagination and, by mixing the vigour and vitality of youth with the experience and wisdom of elders, we’ll produce new and creative ideas that can propel our country into greatness.
I’m in the demographic that’s starting to let slide the idealism and optimism of youth because we’re simply tired of being ignored and feel our efforts could be better spent elsewhere. Have I reached that point? No, but I can understand how a lot of people find themselves there. At the event, I noticed the majority of the attendees make up what I’d call the Liberal elders: people who have been party supporters for years, have seen their fair share of struggles, tragedies, and triumphs, and are looking to pass the mantle on to the next generation. Noticeably absent were those from my demographic – precisely why it’s imperative for people like Justin to take the message of a capacity to imagine to all corners of our nation.
For all the chest-beating and visionary pronouncements I heard, I was left wondering how this one man was going to help accomplish what we as a nation need to step up and do for our own good. And then I thought of what we’d just seen south of the border. Barack Obama brought a message of hope and change and re-engaged millions of people who’ve been missing from the political landscape for years. Can Justin Trudeau do the same for Canadian politics? I imagine that he will.