Hundreds attend rally with Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau in northeast Calgary

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Hundreds attend rally with Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau in northeast Calgary

For the second time in the election campaign, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau paid a visit to Alberta — this time to a northeast Calgary banquet hall — in the final hours ahead of voting.

The 11th-hour stop, his only visit to Calgary of the election, saw him rally a large crowd of roughly 800 people around 11:30 p.m. Saturday alongside Calgary Skyview candidate Nirmala Naidoo at the Magnolia Banquet Hall.

With a hoarse voice amid his third speech and event of the day, he spoke about how support remains strong in Alberta for the Liberal party all the while not hesitating to take shots at Conservative politicians.

“I can’t hear you, are there any Liberals in Calgary?” he asked a crowd, which replied with a loud cheer.

“I’ve been coming to Alberta a few times every year to talk with you about your priorities, to listen to you, to work with you and I know there are thousands upon thousands upon thousands of progressive Albertans who do not feel Jason Kenney speaks for them.

“We want to send strong Alberta voices to Ottawa that will make sure that we keep moving forward including everyone coast, to coast, to coast.”


Protesters greet Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau before he took the stage during a rally held late Saturday evening at the Magnolia Banquet Hall during the last days of the federal election campaign. Saturday, October 19, 2019. Brendan Miller/Postmedia

Brendan Miller/Postmedia

Outside the hall, police estimated roughly 1,100 people wrapped around the building hoping to get inside. Dozens of protestors also gathered outdoors with police keeping a watchful eye amid chants of “Justin Trudeau has got to go.”

During his roughly 15-minute-long speech, Trudeau took aim at Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and often referenced how the Liberal party is hoping to avoid a return to the “Stephen Harper years,” a common refrain throughout the campaign.

“Even as we’re making great strides in climate change and putting more money in the pockets of Albertans … the Conservatives have (plans) to rip up the only serious plan Canada has ever had to fight climate change,” Trudeau said, referencing the carbon tax.

“We find ourselves in 2019, where the Conservative party is putting forth the exact same kinds of politics of fear, and division.

“(Conservative Leader) Andrew Scheer wants to think this election is about me — this election isn’t about me, this election is about you, the people,” he added, eliciting one of many raucous cheers through his brief address. “That’s why we’re going to step up with a positive, progressive vision for this country.”

At the beginning of the campaign, the Liberal leader made a September pit stop in Edmonton, where he focused on his party’s support of the Trans Mountain Pipeline extension all the while touching their support of the child tax benefit and job creation efforts.

Recent polls from Nanos Research showed the Conservatives and Liberals in a tie at 31 per cent — well off highs for both parties of 37.8 per cent for the Conservatives, and 36.9 per cent for the Liberals. The NDP at 19 per cent, and the Bloc Québécois at 6.2 per cent on Friday, were both close to their three-month highs.

After Saturday’s Calgary rally, supporters said they are choosing to vote for the Liberal party largely based on inclusive policies.

“I think it just sends that strong message that he alluded to earlier tonight that there is still Liberal supports in Calgary,” said Dale Gordon, who attended the rally with his 15-year-old daughter Mila. “For us, it’s all about the values and what not only Trudeau brings to the table, but the whole Liberal party across Canada.”


Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau speaks to supporters during a rally held late Saturday evening at the Magnolia Banquet Hall during the last days of the federal election campaign. Saturday, October 19, 2019. Brendan Miller/Postmedia

Brendan Miller/Postmedia

Another attendee, Rummy Basra, said she felt that it was important Trudeau made a stop in Calgary.

“I think it was important for Justin Trudeau to come to Alberta to show his support for Albertans,” she said. “It has been a tough four to five years for us, but I think the fact he was here, especially on the eve of the election … I think it was a sign, as Justin Trudeau mentioned, that Albertans matter to the Liberal party.

“I think it’s a party that represents all Canadians.”

The last time Trudeau stopped in the city was during the Calgary Stampede, when he visited Kent Hehr’s Calgary Centre riding for the Sunalta pancake breakfast before speaking to Liberal supporters downtown.

Before arriving in Calgary Trudeau had a packed Saturday, having campaigned near Niagara Falls, Ont., earlier in the day before stopping at Winnipeg’s Punjab Cultural Centre in the evening.

The Liberal’s were set to spend Sunday in Vancouver, and flew out of Calgary after midnight Sunday morning expecting to arrive around 3 a.m.

In Calgary, a tight race is expected in Calgary Centre between incumbent Liberal candidate Kent Hehr and Conservative candidate Greg McLean.

Earlier this week, Mount Royal political scientist Duane Bratt suggested the riding is likely to turn blue.

“It would be a major upset if Kent Hehr held on,” he told Postmedia. “The others aren’t even in the discussion now.”

One of Bratt’s colleagues, David Taras, said Friday he wasn’t sure why Trudeau was making the late-night stop in Calgary.

“The question is does it have any political significance, is it a visit that can stem the tide or push voters to the polls in a winnable situation?” said Taras. “My sense it isn’t — my sense is Alberta is still flyover territory for the Liberals.

“Maybe that’s the argument, that they know something about Skyview that we don’t.”

With files from The Canadian Press and the National Post

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On Twitter: @zjlaing

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