For the second time, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has chosen Vancouver to kick off an election campaign.
Thousands flocked to East Vancouver’s Italian Cultural Centre to cheers on Trudeau, MP for Papineau, Que. as he joined multiple B.C. Liberal candidates to mark the start of the campaign race to the Oct. 21 finish line.
He arrived in Vancouver after requesting that Governor General Julie Payette dissolve Parliament for the campaign to begin.
Greeted by hundreds of the chanting faithful, Trudeau launched into a speech short on promises and long on history.
“Even though we know we live in the best country in the world, better is always possible,” Trudeau said. “Poverty is way down, unemployment is at historic lows and unemployment is way up,” Trudeau said.
“We renegotiated NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement) at a time of U.S. protectionism and unpredictability.”
And, then he turned his guns on the Conservatives, saying a vote for that Andrew Scheer’s party was a vote to return to “the Harper years.”
“The Conservatives share no new ideas for Canadians,” he said. “They seem to think you can cut your way to prosperity.”
Trudeau pointed to some of his government’s major accomplishments: the $1.5-billion oceans protection plan, the creation of millions of jobs and the negotiation of a new federal-provincial-territorial health care accord.
Joining Trudeau was a throng Liberal candidates from throughout the Lower Mainland.
This election marks Vancouver incumbent Hedy Fry’s ninth run for Parliament since she defeated sitting prime minister Kim Campbell in 1993.
Fry said housing in Vancouver is in crisis, adding seniors, particularly LGBT seniors, are in need of housing. Added to that, she said, is basic affordability in her riding as well as a need for pharmacare, a key part of the national Liberal platform.
She said Canada must continue to push for upholding of human rights around the world despite current conflicts with China.
“China will do what China will do,” Fry said.
Tamara Taggart is a political novice, a former TV broadcaster looking to unseat Vancouver Kingsway incumbent Don Davies, who has held the seat for the NDP since 2008.
She paid tribute to her colleagues, calling Fry a ‘legend.’
“Climate change, housing and affordability,” Taggart said. “Those are the major issues in my riding.”
Only a handful of protesters turned out, one shouting during Trudeau’s speech only to be drowned out by cheers. Others outside protested the Trans Mountain pipeline purchased by Trudeau from Kinder Morgan.
Conservative Party Leader and Regina Qu'Appelle MP Scheer took his campaign kickoff to Trudeau’s Quebec home turf in the Trois-Rivieres riding.
Should the Conservatives take the most seats at the ballot box, he would become the second person from Saskatchewan to be prime minister, the first being Conservative John Diefenbaker.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh did not kick of his campaign in his Burnaby South riding, choosing instead to launch his bid for the prime minister’s office in London, Ont. Singh took the B.C. riding in February after NDP incumbent Kennedy Stewart became mayor of Vancouver.
Green Leader Elizabeth May, MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands, was in Victoria for the campaign start.