Deep in the B.C. Conservative heartland, federal Liberal deputy leader Ralph Goodale kissed babies, gladhanded and chatted with Chilliwack residents on Friday.
The visit was at the request of the local riding association and was part of an outreach process that party leader Justin Trudeau is keen on, Goodale told the Times during an interview on Wellington Avenue as the final Party in the Park of the season got underway.
"He wants us to do our part to reach every Canadian," Goodale said.
Local party volunteers walked around Party in the Park with Goodale, meeting residents and looking for support.
Given the party's result in the 2011 federal election-candidate Diane Janzen finished third with just 11 per cent of the vote-the Times asked Goodale when a riding was written off as unwinnable.
"Well you really never make that judgment," he said. "It's a matter of being inclusive and comprehensive and providing the opportunity for everybody in the country to vote Liberal if they want to exercise that option."
Goodale said he had his eyes on two Conservative Achilles' heels at the moment: economic prosperity and ethics.
The former federal finance minister said Conservative policy is at least partly responsible for a Canadian economy that has been sputtering.
"The recession was over in 2009, but we are still performing at a mediocre level. We can do a lot better than this."
Goodale said the Liberals are focused on the well-being of the middle class, and particularly on increasing the federal focus on financial help for families paying for post-secondary education.
"The federal government has a very significant role to play and it's just not playing it at all," he said.
"The government's only discernible economic policy is austerity: cut programs, cut services, invest less and less from the resources of the government of Canada. With the greatest of respect to [Finance Minister] Mr. [Jim] Flaherty, that is the wrong policy for Canada."
Goodale also talked ethics and integrity, both in regards to the behaviour of Harper-appointed Senators and the fact that the highest-ranking staffer in the Prime Minister's office thought it was OK to pay $90,000 to clear up Senator Mike Duffy's troubles.
"Until [Harper] looks Canadians in the eye and says 'I'm sorry, this is what happened,' then this is going to undermine his government and I think until he resolves this issue, he is unelectable."
As for the obvious question given Trudeau's marijuana admissions of late: has Goodale ever smoked weed as a Member of Parliament? "No, no I haven't." And what does he make of Trudeau's admission? "Two things: he is truly a member of his generation in a very common and inclusive way, and secondly, he was faced with the question, he answered it directly, immediately, candidly. I would hope Mr. Harper would have the courage to answer some questions as directly as that."
Ethics, the economy
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