Trudeau’s visit offers hope for forgotten voters

"How often has a political leader made a point of visiting a riding that his party hasn’t had a hope in winning in decades?"

You can look at Monday’s visit by Justin Trudeau through several prisms.

For some, the thought of a politician parading his family on a whistle-stop of western towns might be a brutal way to spend your summer holiday.

For others, he might be seen as yet another politician eager to shake every hand and smile for every camera if it nets him some votes in the next election.

On the other hand, I prefer to see the positive side of the visit.

How often has a political leader made a point of visiting a riding that his party hasn’t had a hope in winning in decades?

How refreshing to see a political leader cast aside political stripes and simply visit Canadians in the less-populated centres.

There’s no doubt Trudeau brings political charisma where ever he goes. And I guess that can be a curse or a blessing, especially with such a famous last name.

And that might be the last bit of luggage he’s carrying around.

My father was never a big Pierre Trudeau fan although he was a pretty staunch Liberal supporter.

But my dad was also a farmer and Trudeau butted heads with the agricultural community often during his days in power.

That might have began when Trudeau uttered his infamous “farmers are professional complainers,” quote in the late seventies.

I think after that my father always had reservations about Pierre Trudeau’s legacy, not unlike many Westerners from that era.

But those prejudices aren’t evident with the next generation of Trudeau.

What I took from Monday’s visit was much more than simple campaigning.

Finally a party leader has the moral fortitude to visit a riding where their party isn’t even on the map let alone close to winning.

Finally a party leader who says every corner of Canada is important whether they support a Liberal candidate or not.

Finally, a politician who is trying to break an old pattern of politicking that usually relied upon $500-a-plate dinners to feed the party coffers without taking a moment to see if the citizens of the region, who don’t have $500, have anything to say.

When Barack Obama was first elected in the U.S. he said he was everyone’s president, not just a president for the ones who voted for him.

In Canada, the opposite seems to hold court.

Even a B.C. MP told his constituents during the last federal election that they have a better chance of getting what they need if they vote for the party in power. In other words if you don’t vote for the right party, you’re out of luck.

I’m tired of that attitude and as a Canadian taxpayer I deserve better.

There is no reason to shun parts of the country simply because it won’t produce election wins.

There’s no reason to favour one area over another on the basis of its support for a specific political party.

And there’s no reason to take an adversarial role when it comes to working with departments, which are entrusted in keeping the country operating safe and sound.

So as far as I’m concerned Justin Trudeau’s visit provided a glimmer of hope for our political system.

Granted his visit was also tinge with sadness in a place where he lost his brother. And perhaps that was the obvious crux of his goal to stop in the West Kootenay.

But it was also an opportunity to introduce himself to the population on a personal level.

It doesn’t mean I’m supporting the Liberals but it does mean I respect what their leader is trying to do.

Whether you support him or not, how often does a leader of any political party stop in our area?

Heck we didn’t even get to see the candidates for our own provincial leadership during the recent campaign.

Christy Clark wasn’t going to waste her time in a solid NDP riding and Adrian Dix had no reason to visit a riding that was already locked up.

What does that say about the democratic process?

The old mentality of ‘with us or against us,” needs to be changed because of the lasting damage it inflicts not only on the citizens but on the entire political process.

So you can remain jaded about the political/paparazzi hoopla surrounding the unproven Trudeau or you can open the door to the possibility that maybe somebody in Ottawa is finally getting the message.

If you want to represent Canada you need to get out there and meet Canadians – all of them.