ANTIGONISH: Justin Trudeau says young people are not the leaders of tomorrow, but the leaders of today.
The Prime Minister made the statement during the opening ceremonies of the Nova Scotia Liberal Annual General Meeting (AGM) on May 24 at StFX University, which saw close to 300 delegates from across the province converge on the Antigonish campus.
The two-day AGM is generally used to vote on the party’s provincial board, but with an upcoming federal election scheduled for October, delegates also looked at how the party can preserve its stronghold in Nova Scotia.
“I remember being here in Nova Scotia just 48-hours before election-day,” Trudeau said. “We didn’t know how the election would turn out, but we didn’t know we were going to win the confidence in every single seat here in Atlantic Canada.”
The AGM kicked off Friday night with Premier Stephen McNeil and Trudeau taking part in campaign-style speeches in which they rallied party faithful for the upcoming federal election.
Randy Delorey, Antigonish MLA and Minister of Health and Wellness, who also acted as an AGM co-chair told The Reporter the weekend was a culmination of the work that gets done in each riding across the province and is an opportunity to meet and interact with elected officials and candidates.
“We have workshops and policy sessions where policies have been developed by grassroots members and they bring them forward, and as a collective, we vote on them and there are opportunities for membership to directly ask questions and hold the elected officials accountable,” Delorey said. “Really it’s an opportunity to make sure, we are, the members of the party, especially elected members continue to reflect the values and policy direction that represent the values of the core.”
As the local MLA, he said he was very proud the party chose Antigonish and the campus at StFX to host their AGM.
“This is now the fourth or fifth time the Prime Minister has been here since I was first elected into office,” Delorey said. “So obviously Antigonish is an important community not only provincially but nationally as well.
He said anytime an organization hosts an annual event in a community, there are obvious economic opportunities, but with the AGM being in Antigonish, elected officials, the leaders of the party and their staff – along with grassroots Liberals from across the province – are able to see what Antigonish has to offer.
“They pay extra attention, we have ideas or views to bring forward, it brings that extra awareness,” he said. “We’re bringing shared priorities forward and those are the priorities that are reflected of the people of Antigonish, whether they’re directly affiliated with the party or not.”
As for Delorey, who was hosting a café to help kick off Saturday, he said he personally appreciates having those more in-formal conversations which ultimately plays a crucial role in informing the work that he does.
Earlier in the afternoon, McNeil sat down with Trudeau at the East Coast Credit Union Social Enterprise Centre in Antigonish and thanked him for providing a good start to the costs of cleaning up the Boat Harbour lagoon where decades of contaminated pulp mill waste has accumulated.
As the leaders met, a group of protestors demonstrated they were dissatisfied with Trudeau’s government’s measures to reduce carbon emissions, and two members of the Extinction Rebellion direct action group were arrested for blocking traffic.
In his speech to the Liberals, Trudeau said his Liberal team would never give up on Canadians and he relayed concerns with a Canada run by Conservative Leader Andrew Sheer.
“In 2015 Canadians made a choice; they chose hope over fear, hard work over cynicism, progress over the status-quo. Four years later, Canadians are facing that same choice,” he said. “Scheer [has] said it himself, he’s Harper with a smile. Canadians deserve better than Harper’s failed policies delivered with a smile.”
Highlighting the fact that the party has gained an additional 20,000 new members from Atlantic Canada since the last election, Trudeau suggests their momentum is building, despite trailing Scheer and the Conservatives in polls.
Trudeau explained when someone gets sick, they shouldn’t have to worry about if there is going to be a spot at the hospital for them or when someone needs medicine, they shouldn’t have to think about choosing between their prescription and their groceries.
“These are concerns with people across the country and here in the Maritimes, we need real action not just band-aid solutions,” he said. “I know we’re ready, so let’s do this together.”