If Justin Trudeau’s visit to Brantford on Saturday offers any indication, the next federal election could prove very interesting in Brant riding and across the country should the 41-year-old be elected to lead the Liberal Party of Canada.
The Liberal leadership candidate and son of former prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau drew a standing-room only crowd at Williams Fresh Cafe during a brief meet and greet event. The stop in Brant riding was part of Trudeau’s travels across the country ahead of the federal Liberal Party choosing its new leader in April.
Many media reports about Trudeau’s campaign stops across Canada contain a similar theme. Everywhere he goes, it seems Trudeau is able to pack a room and inspire a real sense of excitement about his candidacy among those who attend. That was certainly the case during his stop in Brantford last week.
“We need a young person leading the party – a breath of fresh air,” Liberal supporter Alice Chisholm said at Williams as Trudeau greeted supporters. “We figure he will bring a whole new era to the Liberal Party.”
While he is considered the perceived frontrunner in the Liberal leadership race, Trudeau winning the job is certainly not a done deal. Eight others – including MPs Marc Garneau and Joyce Murray and former MPs Martha Hall-Findlay and Martin Cauchon – are running for the Liberal Party’s top job.
But none of the others seem to inspire the kind of enthusiasm among Liberals and the wider electorate that Trudeau has. The growing enthusiasm for his candidacy shows that Trudeau leading the federal Liberal Party has the potential to be a true political game changer.
According to a poll published in the Feb. 8 National Post, if an election were held today with Trudeau leading the Liberals, the party would win a majority government, with more than 40 per cent of poll respondents saying they would vote Liberal.
Simply put, those are big numbers for a federal Liberal Party that has struggled during recent elections, a party many questioned could even survive.
So how would a Liberal Party with Trudeau at the helm impact the next federal election in Brant riding? In large part, that will depend on who the Brant Liberals choose to carry their banner into the vote.
Brant’s current Conservative MP, Phil McColeman, is well-liked and a strong constituency representative, meaning he does a good job taking care of issues brought forward by the people of Brant. A strong local focus has served sitting Brant politicians well in past elections and there is little doubt that McColeman will enjoy significant support when voters next head to the polls in a federal vote.
The Brant NDP’s federal candidate of record, Marc Laferriere, is a known quantity who helped grow NDP support in the 2011 federal election. Laferriere – who puts a strong focus on youth engagement and social media – will look to continue the NDP’s local momentum.
With such strong Conservative and NDP candidates, a new wave of “Trudeaumania” may not alone be enough to carry the Brant Liberals to victory, but it would undoubtably provide them a bump in support. A strong Liberal candidate with name recognition, coupled with a Trudeau win, could provide the Liberals an improved chance at winning back Brant’s seat in the House of Commons, which the party held from 1993 until 2008.
While the next federal election won’t take place until 2015, the current Liberal leadership race is giving members of federal political parties across Canada reason to consider their potential electoral fortunes. That’s also true right here in Brant, most likely especially for the Liberals, who surely see an opportunity to gain significant ground with a young Trudeau at the party’s helm.