Justin Trudeau names Chrystia Freeland to economic caucus
Toronto Centre Liberal candidate to join MP Scott Brison on economic consultation team
Toronto Centre Liberal candidate Chrystia Freeland will help advise Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau on economic issues, he said today.
Nova Scotia Liberal MP Scott Brison is also on the economic consultative committee, Trudeau said.
Freeland said she's concerned about the "squeeze that the middle class is facing."
"And that [squeeze] is relentless," she added.
"What we are doing today is putting in place a very serious process and effort to address in a sophisticated, smart way, how we can secure real prosperity for the Canadian middle class going forward."
The Liberals have put their focus on the middle class lately, hoping to recapture votes they lost in the past two federal elections. Trudeau said the party is talking to Canadians across the country to determine its platform in the next election, set for two years from now.
"This is about building the kind of solutions and platform that we need to offer Canadians in 2015. Not just a different government, but a better government," he said.
Trudeau says the Liberal Party's platform won't be released until the 2015 election, arguing it needs to be written in consultation with Canadians. He has been criticized by the NDP and Conservatives for not releasing much policy since he started his ultimately successful run for the party's leadership.
One issue he has raised was the legalization and regulation of marijuana, arguing it's easier right now for teens to buy pot than it is to buy liquor.
Asked about why he's been more clear about his position on pot than on economic issues, Trudeau shot back that he isn't relying on "easy electoralism" the way the Conservative government has.
"Would you like to talk about my policies on pipelines, my policies on foreign investment and trade, my policies on open Parliament?" he said.
"We have a government right now that has gotten itself a majority simply on the basis of what kind of retail elements it thinks it can sell, what it thinks it's going to be able to trick people into voting for. The problem with that is it has got in the position where it actually can't respond to the very real and deep challenges we're facing."
NDP's McQuaig challenges Freeland
Freeland won the nomination on Sunday to represent the Liberals in a byelection in Toronto Centre, a seat that was held by former interim party leader Bob Rae. The date for the byelection hasn't yet been set.
Freeland quit as managing director and editor of Canadian-owned Thomson Reuters and moved her children — ages 12, 8 and 4 — from New York to Toronto.
Freeland is the author of the award-winning book called The Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else, which is said to be a big influence on Trudeau, who has named the plight of the middle class as his core issue.
Trudeau held the press conference one day after MPs and senators were supposed to be back on Parliament Hill. Prime Minister Stephen Harper asked the Governor General to prorogue Parliament until Oct. 16, when the government will return with a throne speech to lay out a new agenda for the next two years.
On Monday, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair led off a virtual question period on Twitter so the New Democrats could show which questions they would be asking if the House were in session.
The NDP also chose their Toronto-Centre candidate on Sunday, Toronto Star columnist and author Linda McQuaig, over former MuchMusic VJ and journalist Jennifer Hollett.
The New Democrats released a challenge to Freeland via press release, moments before she and Trudeau approached reporters. The NDP is challenging Freeland to a debate with McQuaig over income inequality, a topic both parties have referenced as important to Canadians.
With files from Leslie MacKinnon