Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau says his party’s message is getting through in the traditional Conservative stronghold of Alberta.
He says more and more Albertans seem to be embracing the party, even though the Liberals failed to snag two Alberta seats that were up for grabs in recent federal byelections.
“There’s no question about the fact that people are more enthusiastically inclined toward the Liberal party in Alberta than they have been in a long time,” Trudeau told reporters on the opening day of the Calgary Stampede.
“But we have a lot more work to do and we’re going to keep to it.”
Trudeau noted the Liberals had a strong showing in the Fort McMurray-Athabasca riding in the heart of oilsands country, which he visited three times during the campaign. Indeed, Liberal Kyle Harrietha took 35 per cent of the vote in that riding, triple what the party got back in 2011.
“The people in Fort McMurray understand the reasonable approach that the Liberal party is taking, the responsible approach that we’re taking around needing social licence for these pipelines,” said Trudeau.
“That’s a good sign for the rest of Alberta.”
The Conservatives ended up holding onto both the Fort McMurray-Athabasca seat and the southern Alberta riding of Macleod in Monday’s byelections.
Trudeau took aim at how the Harper government has handled two issues that are top of mind in the oilpatch.
Trudeau reiterated his view that the Conservatives’ management of the temporary foreign worker program is “anti-Alberta” and that the government has “fallen down” when it comes to advancing the controversial Keystone XL cross-border oil pipeline.
“If we had had an actual price on carbon, if we had figured out some way of actually demonstrating to our trading partners that we are serious about reducing carbon pollution, Keystone XL would already be approved,” he said.
Trudeau said he delivers the same message in downtown Toronto as he does in downtown Calgary.
“And that’s something that Canadians want to see,” he said.
“So the fact that the Conservatives are attacking me out here for not being pro-pipeline enough and the NDP are attacking me in Toronto for being too pro-pipeline sort of reassures me that I’ve found a balanced place that I think most Canadians are going to appreciate.”
Trudeau posed for pictures with supporters on a busy downtown Calgary pedestrian thoroughfare before taking public transit to the Stampede grounds with two of his children, where they planned to take in the rodeo.
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Trudeau were on hand for the Stampede parade.