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Posted: July 25, 2013

Trudeau lit up Rotary Park

The current rock star of Canadian politics rolled into the East Kootenay Sunday, July 21 and popped by Cranbrook’s Rotary Park to outline a variety of reasons as to why he should be the next Prime Minister of Canada. (Please see photo gallery below.)

Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau, son of the late Prime Minister Pierre E Trudeau, his wife Sophie Gregoire and children Ella-Grace, 4, and Xavier, 6, spent about 90 minutes of a blazing hot mid afternoon mingling and meeting many of the roughly 130 people who attended the event, hosted by the Kootenay Columbia Liberal Association.

An amicable, chatty and open Trudeau worked the crowd – leaving each person he spent time with beaming, after placing a hand on a shoulder or a back and leaning in close to provide his full attention. He then patiently moved to the next person, often after signing an autograph. Sophie, not feeling well, took the children to Rotary Park’s waterpark and playground as her husband took to the Spirit Square stage. He was introduced by City of Cranbrook Mayor Wayne Stetski who once worked with 42-year-old Trudeau on establishing a cabin in Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park in honour of his brother, Michel, who was killed Nov. 13, 1998 by an avalanche while skiing Kokanee Glacier. It is believed his body was carried into Kokanee Lake and the 23-year-old was never found.

His older brother’s tour through the Kootenays culminated in a special family gathering Monday, July 22 in the Kokanee Lake area, north of Nelson.

“It is a very, very special place for me. It was the place my brother chose to live his and we didn’t know he’d leave us at 23 but every time I come here I feel close to him,” Trudeau related.

The Kootenays remain a special place for him – not just because of the jaw-dropping mountain majesty but also because of the people leaving in B.C. southeast corner.

“I’m overwhelmed by the strength of spirit of the people who live here; the friendliness – the welcoming and just the strength of community around here. How they came together to support my family when we lost our brother, but also in the following years as I became more and more active in avalanche safety. I got to meet a whole bunch of people who were driven by the same love for mountains and strength of community, leaning on each other,” he said.

Trudeau said his visit to the region was “a little bit about politicking” but mostly about “showing my kids an extraordinary, beautiful part of the world; it’s about convincing the folks in Ottawa that, yes, it was a good idea to have me drive a big honkin’ RV through the Kootenays and I am certainly loving it. I mean, this is what summer is supposed to be all about; parks and barbecues and smiles. If I can use that to get politics and a little bit more purchase with people in their everyday lives then that’s what it needs to be.”

Trudeau said he wants Canadians to be taken in by politics and Ottawa again – to regain their fervor for national affairs and leave behind the sweeping mistrust of anything federal government. In order to do that, he said, politicians and leaders have to get work and earn it.

“The challenge is we have to get people to believe once again in politics, to actually think that maybe there is someone who shares their values and interests, that they can feel close to, who is actually going to be making some big decisions in their name. What people are looking for is that sense of connection but also values and judgment and a focus on doing right kinds of things that I’ve demonstrated in a lot of ways, but this is not the place for a big policy discussion,” he said to the small regional media scrum. “This is a way to connect with people in a park and hopefully capture their interests so in the coming months and year as we approach an election they can understand that I am very serious about the things I am putting forward and am going to be doing at the right time.”

After a final few autographs and laughs, Trudeau and his small entourage boarded their RV and headed west for an appointment in Creston and “fresh Kokanee waiting for me,” he said with the warm smile that left dozens of Cranbrook and area residents glowing Sunday afternoon.

A Christmas baby, born Dec. 25. 1971, Justin Pierre James Trudeau became leader of the Liberals following an April 14 party leadership vote. He captured 80.1% of the 30,800 votes cast, defeating main challenger, retired astronaut Marc Garneau.

Click on an image to enlarge and begin self-directed slide show…

Please see videos of Justin Trudeau addressing the crowd in Cranbrook’s Rotary Park on Sunday, July 21…


Ian Cobb/e-KNOW

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