A day after winning the Liberal candidacy for an upcoming by-election, Chrystia Freeland joined party Leader Justin Trudeau to encourage students to help change the hostile nature of politics Monday.
Mr. Trudeau publicly introduced Ms. Freeland at Ryerson University as the Liberal candidate to replace Bob Rae in the Toronto Centre by-election, which hasn’t yet been scheduled.
The two met about a year ago, Mr. Trudeau said, around the time that Ms. Freeland – a former editor and columnist with The Globe and Mail – released her book, Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else. He said he was impressed by the book and it shaped his ideas on how to strengthen Canada’s middle class.
“The fact that we now have someone incredible in Chrystia Freeland – who’s going to stand forward and continue to shape this discussion in a way that will bring about the kinds of changes we need in politics – is something very exciting to me,” Mr. Trudeau said.
Though some have questioned the openness of the nomination process, Mr. Trudeau stressed that Ms. Freeland’s win was as open and democratic as he previously stated all nominations would be.
“Local Liberals got to decide who would be their voice in Ottawa and that motion and that drive for openness, accountability, transparency that I’ve pushed in the Liberal party is something I’m continuing to be able to celebrate,” he said.
Mr. Trudeau has said in the past that he will never appoint candidates, but Ms. Freeland is known to have close ties to Mr. Trudeau and his inner circle.
While addressing the audience, Ms. Freeland said: “It is so great to be here with our next Prime Minister, the man who inspired me to take this huge leap into politics, Justin Trudeau.”
Together, Ms. Freeland and Mr. Trudeau emphasized the need for fresh, young blood in a political arena that has become known for negativity.
“Politics has come to be something we associate with cynicism, with narrowness,” Ms. Freeland told the crowd of mostly students. “It’s stopped being about how we actually choose to govern ourselves.”
She said it’s up to young people to become active in their communities and remind the public that democracy and political engagement is fun.
Despite their focus on the positive, Mr. Trudeau took the opportunity to make several digs at Prime Minister Stephen Harper during the event.
“Mr. Harper enjoys going up north for photo ops regularly, but in terms of meaningful engagement with the people who live in our high arctic or the scientists who work and are very concerned about the impact of climate change and the resource development in the Arctic, [that] is something that we have to be very, very aware of,” Mr. Trudeau said while answering a question on Canada’s arctic policy.