Trudeau has tough sell during Alberta campaign visits

Liberal leadership candidate Justin Trudeau is campaigning in Red Deer and Calgary Sunday, but Albertans at Saturday stops in the Edmonton area were questioning whether the 41-year-old with star power has enough political substance.

Voters aren't forgetting Trudeau's Alberta comment as they look for substance behind style

Justin Trudeau visits Vegreville and tries to connect with voters as part of his campaign tour of Western Canada. 2:29

Liberal leadership candidate Justin Trudeau is making stops in Red Deer and Calgary on Sunday as part his Alberta campaign tour, where he's had a tough time winning over potential supporters.

Some Albertans at earlier stops in the Edmonton area said the 41-year-old has definite star power, but questioned whether he has enough political substance.

Trudeau said this tour of the west is about trying to change that perception, whether he has a good reception or not.

"This country is not about picking and choosing the areas that you think you might be popular in. It's about connecting and building a broad sense of where this country needs to go," he said.

On Saturday night, the Montreal member of Parliament stopped in Edmonton, after visiting Bonnyville and Vegreville, where he met with resistance.

In the heart of Vegreville's conservative country, the owner of a train station restaurant said she was surprised when Trudeau's team called and asked to make a campaign stop in her venue.

But Ellen Dunn accepted the request, if only to challenge the would-be leader to answer her tough questions on supporting small business.

"I'm a one man show — I need to know what he can do for a one man show," Dunn said.

A tough sell

As he spoke to the Vegreville audience, Trudeau tried to energize the crowd and get them excited about the future of the country.

"Maybe there is something big happening in politics again, maybe there's room for each of us to get involved," he said.

But he didn't win over everyone. Some said he looked too young to lead. Some said he's all about style — and even discussed his hair, just as the The Toronto Star did in an article earlier this week.

Justin Trudeau talks to voters in a train station restaurant in Vegreville, Alta. Saturday. (CBC)

Despite the continuing attention on his appearance, Trudeau told CBC News he's choosing to focus on the issues.

"I continue to be bemused by the fact that people try to write about things that are going to sell newspapers. The work I'm doing is connecting with people on the ground, on substance."

But many, including Dunn, were disappointed they didn't hear more specifics from the candidate.

"I'm not sure I heard substance as far as individual items," Dunn said.

Ron Williams, the local Liberal candidate in the last federal election, was also on-hand at the Vegreville stop, where he dispatched some advice for Trudeau.

"Don't equivocate. State where you stand on the issues and why that is your belief," Williams said.

Alberta comment lingers

Trudeau's western tour is also about trying to counter bad feelings that might be lingering after comments he made about Alberta in 2010 recently came to light.

In a 2010 interview in French, Trudeau told the Télé-Québec program Les Francs-tireurs (The Straight Shooters): "Canada isn't doing well right now because it's Albertans who control our community and socio-democratic agenda. It doesn't work."

Trudeau later apologized, and explained that the comments were directed at the government of Stephen Harper, and not Albertans in general.

The federal Liberal party will announce its new leader April 14.

With files from the CBC's Travis Dhanraj