GEORGETOWN, P.E.I.—Justin Trudeau has identified what’s ailing the middle class, but he won’t be rushed into offering any prescriptions.
The Liberal leader said at a rally Wednesday that details of his economic policies will have to wait until the party unveils its platform for the 2015 election.
The rally, which attracted what appeared to be more than 1,000 supporters, capped a day in which Trudeau and his caucus discussed their two priorities for the fall: transparency and the economic challenges facing middle-class families.
Trudeau made improving the lot of the middle class the central pillar of his leadership campaign and has continued that theme since becoming leader in April. But while he and other Liberals frequently rattle off statistics demonstrating that middle-class families struggle to make ends meet, he has yet to spell out what he’d do to help them.
During the leadership race, Trudeau similarly argued that platform development should be a bottom-up exercise, not something handed down from on high. His rivals complained he was offering nothing but vague platitudes but their criticism found little traction among party rank and file, who elected Trudeau by a landslide.
Trudeau’s harshest critic was leadership rival and fellow Montreal MP Marc Garneau, who is now a convert to the wait-and-see approach.
“Guess what? I lost. He won. He’s a smart guy and I’m totally behind him on that,” Garneau said in an interview Wednesday.
While some people want to see a leader offer detailed policy, Garneau said he’s concluded that voters are looking more broadly for “a whole bunch of things” in a leader, including personality, character and general “messaging” that appeals to them.
Whether Trudeau’s approach will work with voters in general remains to be seen. But pressed repeatedly Wednesday by reporters to finally put some meat on the bare bones of his pledge to improve the lot of the middle class, Trudeau didn’t budge.
“My responsibility is to put forward a comprehensive, robust platform in 2015 that is going to demonstrate to Canadians that the Liberal party is serious about working hard for them and responding to their concerns. And I’m not going to short-cut that process, which is a serious and responsible process, just because people want to know right now and they’re impatient to know.”
Liberal MPs and senators will begin the consultation process in earnest on Sept. 16, returning to Parliament as originally scheduled, even though Harper has announced his intention to prorogue and begin a new sitting some time in mid-to-late October.
The Trudeau team announced Wednesday that it has engaged a fundraising heavyweight—Stephen Bronfman—in a bid to become more competitive with the Tories. Bronfman, a longtime Trudeau friend and scion of one of Canada’s wealthiest families, was in charge of fundraising during Trudeau’s leadership campaign, producing an eye-popping $2 million.