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Justin Trudeau says major improvement needed after decade of Tory rule

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau says Canadians have had their fill of politics of fear and cynicism.
June 25, 2015
By Richard J. Brennan

After a decade of Conservative government major improvements are desperately required in areas ranging from the Canada Pension Plan to national unity to the environment, Justin Trudeau says.

“Mr. Harper has not been exactly great for Canada over the past 10 years, on the contrary,” the Liberal leader told the Star editorial board Thursday.

Trudeau said when Prime Minister Stephen Harper is not trying to scare Canadians about terrorism, he’s ignoring the environmental issues staring them in the face.

“I reject politics of polarization and fear and whether it’s Mr. Harper trying to tell people there is a terrorist hiding under every leaf and rock and we should be scared, very scared, or Mr. Mulcair ... stirring up fears about living in a police state,” he said, referring to NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair.

Trudeau outlined the need to enhance the Canada Pension Plan benefits, strengthen environmental standards, entertain trade agreements that protect Canada, protect national unity, build up the middle class and end the partisan bickering in Ottawa.

“I am not going to engage in the nastiness or divisive politics that we all know can be very effective to get elected but not so much to govern responsibly in a way that pulls people together,” he said.

Trudeau says he is well aware of the daily barrage of radio and television spots by the Conservatives saying he is not up to the job.

“If this election comes down to who can put out the most pithy saying that is not grounded in any sort of fact or vision for this country, Harper is going to win again. If Canadians actually chose to do politics on full sentences ... then I am excited about the opportunity to govern this country,” he said.

“Mr. Harper has not been exactly great for Canada over the past 10 years, on the contrary,” he added.

Trudeau stressed that because he was raised by his father, former prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, national unity is important to him and took exception to Mulcair’s “regional pandering” in Quebec.

Trudeau said he was referring to the fact that Mulcair said - on St-Jean-Baptiste Day in Quebec - he would repeal the Clarity Act, which was passed in 2000 after the Supreme Court of Canada laid down some legal guidelines governing separation. The act insists a province can secede only through a constitutional amendment.

“Obviously it’s a popular decision among certain circles in Quebec, not so popular elsewhere in the country. I don’t think we are going to see him saying a lot about that elsewhere in the country ... that’s the kind of regional pandering and divisiveness that is irresponsible for a prime minister,” he said.

Trudeau said one of the first moves by a Grit government would be to increase CPP benefits because he says Canadians deserve to retire with dignity.

That could preclude Ontario having to bring in a separate provincial plan as promised by the Wynne government in last year’s election.

“What the most important thing to me is that we do move toward an enhancement of the CPP,” he said.