By James Jackson
For the Post
Voting isn’t cool. It may be a risky message to deliver to a room full of voters between the ages of 18 and 30, but that’s what federal Liberal leadership candidate Justin Trudeau told a crowd of well over 100 people during a campaign stop at Kitchener’s Conestoga College Doon campus last Thursday.
“What’s the definition of ‘cool?’ Literally, it’s cold, it’s detached,” Trudeau said. “Cool is not caring what other people say about you.”
Compare that to the act of voting, which he called a “personal act, a hopeful act,” where you put a little X on a piece of paper with a pencil and say the world might be a better place for it.
“It’s an incredibly powerful idea, but it ain’t cool.”
The son of former Liberal Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau is crisscrossing the country soliciting support — and votes — to help make him the next leader of the party his father first joined more than 45 years ago.
To return the Liberals to power, Trudeau said the party must be rebuilt from the ground up. For far too long, Liberals have been focused inward when they should have been focusing on Canadians.
As a result, the party has gone from governing Canada to third-party status in less than a decade.
“We were busy arguing within ourselves about the future of the Liberal Party and who got to be in charge, and not focused nearly enough on the future of the country. That’s what we have to turn around.”
He believes the reason many young people don’t vote — less than half of voters 18 to 35 years old vote in the typical election — isn’t because they don’t care about politics, but because politicians don’t take youth seriously enough.
“We get told this is the world we’re going to inherit and then we get ignored until we become the leaders of tomorrow,” Trudeau said. “No, you’re the leaders of today. If this generation is not connected with politicians, it’s not the fault of this generation, it’s the fault of politicians.”
Trudeau is one of nine candidates vying for the leadership of the federal Liberal Party and he is largely viewed as the favourite to win.
He has been criticized for his lack of firm positions on controversial issues, a point he addressed during his talk last week.
Trudeau announced he is in favour of legalizing marijuana, against the strengthening of Quebec’s language laws and against the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline project that would carry bitumen from the oilsands in Alberta to a marine terminal in Kitimat, B.C.
The party intends to announce the new leader April 14 in Ottawa.