Last Friday at the Charloma Star African and Caribbean Restaurant on Dundas in Whitby, Ryan Turnbull Liberal candidate for the area hosted Liberal leader Justin Trudeau in a meet and greet event.
Trunbull praised the Mr Trudeau for getting us through the worst crisis in about a hundred years. He attributed this success to Trudeau’s strong support of the health and safety of all Canadians. Progressives he said are identified by their desire for change, to make a better future, and promote equity and gender equality.
“Think about how many firsts that he’s led us through,” the Whitby candidate urged, “we’ve had the first Minister of Finance that is a woman; the first governor general who is indigenous; the First National Housing strategy as well as [establishing] the first anti-racism Secretariat in the history of Canada.”
Before an audience of at 400 – 500, which, respecting COVID restrictions, overflowed into the outdoors, Trudeau, acknowledging the support of members of the various communities in attendance, stressed the importance of mutual support and community interdependence:
“We have been through a remarkably year-and-a-half and what we have seen throughout this pandemic, and it’s people stepping up for each other, neighbours being there for neighbours, people supporting our frontline health and grocery store workers we know how important it has been for us to pull together, even with all the tragedies that we have faced and the hardship and sacrifices that we have made in Canada.”
Amid Trudeau’s happy banter, he did not mince words in describing Erin O’Toole, his main rival and Conservative Party leader. “O’Toole,” said Trudeau, “says that he’ll have 90% of the population vaccinated in the coming months; the problem with that is that he cannot convince his own candidates to get vaccinated.”
The large gathering cheered as the Liberal leader made big promises about investing in healthcare. It makes no sense he said to see only pennies trickling in over the next few years, with all the health-care money arriving in 7 or 8 years. To get through the pandemic “ we are proposing to spend 25 billion dollars over the next five years on healthcare for things like Mental Health, more family support for our seniors, and to end the backlog of surgeries that have accumulated. We need to make the right choices going forward.”
We must also understand “that Canada is a country not weakened by its differences but strengthened by them, that’s why I’m so happy to be here with the African Caribbean community; we are happy to stand beside you and your fight for anti-black racism against systemic discrimination.”
Trudeau spoke of his government investing hundreds of millions of dollars promoting and supporting Black entrepreneurship, for Black led community organizations to make sure that we are recognizing that this pandemic hit some communities harder than others such as racialized communities.
Trudeau, buoyed by an enthusiastic audience, took a parting shot at Erin O’Toole, who he accused of wanting to take Canada back to the past when the future is what really matters.