The Liberal Party's first step in a Federal election should be reengaging people who have given up on politics, says leadership contender Justin Trudeau.
“We need to reengage citizens across this country with the idea of being citizens,” Trudeau said at an appearance at the West Town Bar and Grill in Hamilton Saturday afternoon.
“Being a citizen is more than just paying your taxes and voting and obeying the law. It's about understanding that you are responsible for the society of which you are part,” he said.
While addressing a crowd of onlookers at the Locke Street restaurant, Trudeau lamented that Canadians are becoming cynical about politics.
'Casinos are being pushed as a solution to a problem that has its solution elsewhere.'—Justin Trudeau
“But we're sick and tired of being cynical about politics,” he added.
“Everywhere across the country, I keep hearing that people are sick of feeling disconnected. We elect people to be our voices in Ottawa and what we get instead is Ottawa's voices here to us.”
To that end, the Montreal-area MP says he's hoping to reach out to voters in the 18 to 25 age bracket who traditionally cast ballots at low levels.
“They have an awareness to the importance of activism and advocacy,” Trudeau said. “They just don't feel like politics is a worthwhile use of their time.”
“But at the same time, they are more engaged than any previous generation in various community causes and big global issues.”
McMaster University student Jennifer Broughton, 20, says Trudeau is going to have a “big impact” because of his charisma.
“I think it's important that a lot of young people follow him,” Broughton, a political science and labour studies student, said. “I think [young people] could change a lot of what politics really is through voting.”
Trudeau said that he's beginning to demonstrate that politics “needs young people.”
“I'm creating space and opportunity for them to come and get involved,” he said.
This was Trudeau's second visit to Hamilton since announcing his candidacy for the Liberal Party. The 42-year-old drew hundreds of supporters to hear him speak back in October of last year.
After his appearance, Trudeau also took the time to weigh in on the idea of a casino in Hamilton. He says the idea of a gaming facility can be appealing for governments that are finding it harder to serve their communities — especially municipal governments that are looking at increased costs in terms of healthcare and education.
“But it tends to be a shortcut that leads to deeper problems,” Trudeau said. “Studies have shown that casinos tend to be another form of taxation on people who are disadvantaged."
Trudeau says he'd happy to examine economic opportunities and would never begrudge people their interests, but thinks “casinos are being pushed as a solution to a problem that has its solution elsewhere.”