Trudeau hopes to go 11-for-11 in Brampton and Mississauga, again
Photos by Joel Wittnebel

Trudeau hopes to go 11-for-11 in Brampton and Mississauga, again

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau showed up in Brampton on Thursday to offer his support to Oakville candidate Anita Anand at a Liberal fundraising event at the Pearson Convention Centre in Brampton, ahead of the 2019 federal election on Oct. 21. 

It’s the latest signal that his party is counting on the Flower City and Mississauga, not just for money, but for the 11 seats that went red in 2015 and will be a key factor if the Liberals are to hold onto power. 

The venue for the fundraiser is actually in the federal riding of Bramalea-Gore-Malton, and Trudeau referenced one Brampton Liberal candidate in the crowd, the newest addition to the party’s local slate. “I know I’m glad to be here in a riding that will very soon be represented by Maninder Sidhu,” he said, referring to the man contesting Brampton East after Raj Grewal was removed from the party following his troubles last year with a gambling problem and multiple investigations into his conduct, including one reportedly by the RCMP. 

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau addresses the small crowd Thursday at Brampton's Pearson Convention Centre

Trudeau alluded to the types of discussions he would be having with Canadians during the election campaign. 

“It’s an opportunity to really get excited about the coming weeks, and quite frankly, the conversations we’re going to be having with Canadians over the next couple of months,” he said. “Because that’s what elections are — they’re a moment for us, as a country, to pause, take stock, to reflect on where we are, how we’ve done, where we’re going and what kind of country we want to be.” 

But the Liberal Leader took no questions from the local media and did not zero in on what Brampton and Mississauga need, and can expect to get, if their support once again helps him win the Prime Minister’s job. Despite rapidly growing infrastructure gaps in both cities, promises by the federal government under Trudeau to send billions of dollars to municipalities under a $188-billion national infrastructure fund have not been fulfilled in Peel. The region has not received even close to its fair share from Ottawa, according to the government’s list of funding allotments. For example, on a per capita basis, Brampton's share of $188 billion earmarked for infrastructure over a decade should be approximately $972 million, but so far it has received only $42 million. Meanwhile, some cities, such as Edmonton, have already had more than their per capita share committed by the federal government. 

It’s unclear why the party chose to host the fundraising event in Brampton, considering a new Oakville candidate was the focus. Critics have pointed out that the Liberals, as well as the Conservatives and NDP,  focus on Mississauga and Brampton during election time, because of the vigorous fundraising that takes place, particularly within certain ethnic communities, and because of the significance of the 11 seats in the two cities. The question is, what will local candidates and their parties do to help voters and the two cities, if they win? There were no answers Thursday, and most of the 10 incumbents weren’t there to take questions about their commitments to their constituents — if voters give them another four years.

Brampton South incumbent Sonia Sidhu, who was at Thursday's event, left, along with other incumbents, as The Pointer was attempting to ask about her record. 

Brampton South incumbent Sonia Sidhu did not speak with the media Thursday

Trudeau praised Anand for stepping into the race after one-term Liberal incumbent John Oliver decided not to run again. “Thank you so much for stepping up to continue to contribute to your country in even more ways,” Trudeau said. “Your story of leadership, of thoughtful teaching and guidance for so many people and organizations, and even governments over the years, is going to continue as you become an incredibly strong voice for Oakville and all Canadians as the next member of parliament for your party.” 

Trudeau discussed timely topics, such as the rise of populism, the middle class and how its members have fared under the current government, the evolving and modernizing workforce in Canada, and global migration. 

One incumbent was happy to talk about what he's hearing at doors in his riding. Mississauga Centre MP Omar Alghabra, who was also in attendance Thursday night, discussed with The Pointer his strategy ahead of the election and what’s important to his constituents. “It’s great having the Prime Minister here,” he said. “And it’s actually equally great — even greater, is the fact that we have so many people who are expressing support, not just verbally but also financially.” 

Mississauga Centre Liberal incumbent Omar Alghabra

Given the neck-and-neck race with the Conservatives for the popular vote, Alghabra said he’s just focused on getting the word out. “As a candidate, my strategy is not to focus on or worry about polls. It’s to focus on speaking with my constituents,” he said. According to Alghabra, he’s been knocking on constituents’ doors for the past four years. “Election or no election, I go door-knocking. I try to burst the stereotype that people have of politicians — that they only come door-knocking during elections. Obviously, now there’s additional emphasis on it. That’s my strategy — just to speak to as many people as possible, answer their questions, collect their feedback and ask for their support.” 

He noted one thing that comes up more than anything else when speaking with his constituents. “I can tell you, overall, people tell me what we don’t want is a Doug Ford in Ottawa,” he said. “There’s been a consensus at the door that Doug Ford’s government is not going in the right direction, through cuts, through misguided policies. It’s actually unbelievable how much of a consensus there is at the door.” 

Finding work is difficult for some in Alghabra’s riding, such as newcomers and recent university graduates, he said. Alghabra says the state of the economy, and the job market specifically, is “obviously very important” to his constituents. According to 2016 census data for Peel Region, Mississauga had the highest unemployment rate (8.3 percent) and the highest prevalence of low income (14.7 percent of the population) in the region at the time. 

But Alghabra highlighted provincial issues, such as health care and education, as being important to people within his riding. He noted issues of affordable housing, immigration and a new economy in which artificial intelligence and advanced manufacturing are replacing workers as topics that have come up with his constituents.


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Twitter: @dancalabrett

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