A little Trudeaumania 2.0 hits Hamilton

Justin Trudeau visits Hamilton Wednesday as part of his quest for Liberal leadership. Hamiltonians have their say on the Trudeau part deux.
Justin Trudeau speaks to Hamiltonians at the Sheraton Hotel Wednesday. (Julia Chapman/CBC)

John Stojcic has been a Liberal party supporter since he came to Hamilton from Croatia in the late 1960s. He never got to meet Pierre Elliott Trudeau, the man who got him interested in Canadian politics, but Wednesday night he met Trudeau's son.

Wearing a white and red Pierre Trudeau T-shirt from 1968, Stojcic shook hands and took photos with Justin Trudeau Wednesday night.

"We need him," Stojcic said.

John Stojcic gets his photo taken with Justin Trudeau, wearing his Pierre Trudeau T-shirt from 1968. (Julia Chapman/CBC)

Trudeau spoke to a crowd of about 200 at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Hamilton as part of his cross-Canada Liberal leadership tour.

"[Hamilton] has transformend itself from a manufacturing hub to knowledge-based industry," Trudeau told the crowd. "It's exactly the kind of city we need to focus on the make sure Canada becomes strong."

In his 15-minute speech, Trudeau said making Canada's economy stronger means focusing on the middle class and engaging all Canadians in poitics.

"When the Liberal party was at its best, it spoke to and for all Canadians," he said. "It's a party created by Canadians."

Trudeau made the crowd laugh when he addressed the decline of the Liberal Party. In the 2000 election, he said the Liberals won 170 seats down to the current 34.

"I'm sorry but that ends up in a straight line down to one seat and that's mine because I'm not losing Papineau," he joked.

Young Hamiltonians like James Puntillo and David Deoliveira, both 20 and friends from high school, wanted to hear what Trudeau would do for young people, but it didn't come up in his speech.

"[Michael] Ignatieff had a platform to subsidize tuition," said Puntillo, a McMaster University student. "I wonder if Justin will carry that torch."

Deoliveria, a Mohawk student who called Pierre Trudeau a rock star, is looking to see a Liberal resurgence, led by his generation.

"I want to live through Trudeaumania 2.0," he said. "It's time for youth in the Liberal Party."

Cynthia Goodridge is a Hamiltonian who remembers Trudeaumania well. She was a French exchange student in Quebec when the separatist movement was gaining prominence.

"The fallout was so clear in my mind and it was Justin's dad's response that made me think highly of the Liberal Party," Goodridge said, dressed in a red pantsuit. "Knowing who brought him up, I can trust this gentleman to lead our country as one."

Liberals hold none of the five federal ridings in Greater Hamilton. But supporters like Stojcic and Goodridge showed there is still some red in the city.

"You're certainly seeing the colour and richness of Hamilton and how hungry people are for something better," Trudeau said.