Feature Story                                                                                                  Sunday, August 25, 2013


Freshening Up the Liberal Party

Goodale networks with Chilliwack locals

Released by Michael Hale, Pipe Up Network/Submitted photos


Ralph Goodale, Liberal Party Deputy Leader meets up with Chilliwack Mayor Sharon Gaetz on Wellington Ave. on Friday. Below, they share some laughs.

here was plenty speculation in the community about why Ralph Goodale, Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, was in Chilliwack Friday.

Some said it was damage control after party leader Justin Trudeau admitted to smoking marijuana last week after being elected Member of Parliament. Others said it was to pump up the troops, despite an election that is still two years distant.

On Friday, Goodale bumped into Chilliwack Mayor Sharon Gaetz amidst Party in the Park festivities and they exchanged pleasantries.

Goodale visited Delta on Thursday and met with the fire chief regarding safety issues, noting he was told then that Chilliwack's mayor works with the municipality from time to time.

Public safety around the production of medicinal marijuana in residential neighbourhoods has been a hot-issue for months.

"We are all concerned about safety. There's lots of illegal ones, but they're all shut off as of April 1, 2014," said Gaetz.

"He (Delta Chief) said you were involved in his issues," Goodale told Gaetz..

"We were talking about the new laws coming down about medical marijuana and we talked about firefighter safety," she replied. "That's the real issue."

Later, Goodale told the Voice during an interview that the local Liberal Association asked him to come to Chilliwack for a visit.

He said that during the last election, he took part in a telephone Town Hall in the Chilliwack riding.

"I wasn't able to get to Chilliwack during the campaign, but I did get involved in an electronic telephone Town Hall meeting open to the public, and we had hundreds of people involved in a conversation about the election and public policy back in the 2011 election campaign," he explained.

According to Goodale, the Chilliwack Liberal Association were so pleased that they asked him to come back.

A Liberal Party supporter and her young son at party in the Park on Friday

"They said, make sure you come a Friday in the summer so we can visit Party in the Park, which has been just great, but I'm just here to say hello and encourage people."

Goodale says the response to his visit has been positive. Last year, Justin Trudeau drew a big crowd when he made a whistle-stop at the Coast Hotel.

"He had an excellent turnout. I think people appreciate the freshness that he brings to the political process, the desire, not just to get into the same old bash-em-up kind of politics that the people are actually quite tired of, but I think they want something new and fresh and different," said Goodale. "They appreciate his candor, the honest way that he answers questions and even though he's a pretty famous individual—people have been watching him grow up since he was 2 or 3-years-old— so at the same time he just seems to be one of us."

Last week, Trudeau made headlines across the country after admitting in a magazine interview that he has smoked marijuana since becoming a Member of Parliament.

Speculation about that acknowledgement has been rampant. Some pundits insinuated it was political theatre and an attempt to try and get more of the youth vote in an election which is still two years away.

"Well, its not deliberately aimed that way but I think a lot of people young and old would say, first of all, his answer to that question was pretty representative of his generation, and secondly, that he was asked a tough question, and without blinking, he answered it."

Goodale says that young people are "very much attracted" to Trudeau, but for other reasons, and fired a howitzer at Stephen Harper who he says has yet to answer questions about Senator Duffy.

"How many times have people both in the House of Commons and outside and the media and general public, asked Stephen Harper what went on with that $90,000 cheque to Mike Duffy" asked Goodale. "Mr. Harper won't answer the question. He could take a lesson on being candid from Justin Trudeau."

So how does the Liberal Party capture the youth vote without resorting to smoking copious amounts of pot?

According to Goodale that comes by being compassionate and in touch with issues affecting youth.

"That's the one demographic group that probably participates the least in the election process, and that's not healthy for a democracy because the group that's youth today, will be middle aged tomorrow, and you'll see your election numbers just collapse if you don't engage them, and that's what Justin is doing, engaging them now," he explained.

"Young people particularly don't like that negativity with the attack ads, and the sniping, and the hardball," he said. "They want to see issues addressed, and they want to see a world and a country that's being built in a way that will be constructive and satisfying from their point of view."

"They're going to inherit whatever the current generation leaves behind and at the moment, their inheritance is being devalued," he added.

A source later told the Voice that Goodale was at a $225 a plate party fundraiser BBQ on Friday.


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