December 29, 2013 12:00 pm
Updated: December 22, 2013 2:21 pm

Liberals’ fundraising indicates a shift from public cynicism: Trudeau


Watch above: Liberal leader Justin Trudeau sits down with Tom Clark to discuss his success at fundraising and his vision of politics.

Since becoming Liberal leader last spring, Justin Trudeau has attracted a lot of attention and, with that, a lot of money—the lifeblood of politics.

While the party is still not drawing in close to as much funding as the Conservatives, it is making gains, signalling to Trudeau a change in the mindset of voters.

“It’s indicating that people are interested in donating and being part of a political process at a time that has been tremendously cynical for lots of people,” he said in an interview on The West Block with Tom Clark.

The cashflow for political parties is strictly controlled and limited in Canada, still raising money is as important as getting votes.

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WATCH above:  The lifeblood of politics is money. The Conservatives are the big dogs, raising more money than any other party—but things are changing. Here’s you weekly West Block primer. 

The Conservatives for years have been the big dogs, swimming in millions of dollars in donations and raising more than any there party. But things are beginning to change.

In the second quarter of 2012, from April to June, the Conservatives were outpacing the Liberals in both the total amount in contributions and the number of Canadians who were giving. The Tories have, in fact, been doing that since 2006.

But exactly one year later, as Trudeau took the helm of the Liberal party, the trend started to shift.

Between April and June 2013, more Canadians gave to the Liberals than to the Conservatives, for the first time in a decade—but the Conservatives still took in way more funds.

The shift continued through to the following quarter, from July to September.

While the Liberals have their eyes on the prize, Trudeau says he’s looking beyond simply offering a “different government” with different policies than that of Prime MInister Stephen Harper.

“The tone is very important,” he said. “The approach to politics, the way we’re including people in the process. We’re building the policy platforms around what Canadians, what experts, what people are giving us in terms of feedback.”

And the tone Trudeau has taken is a decidedly positive one; he has said over and again he will not go negative.

Trudeau did, however, draw the ire of the NDP last month when he invoked the final words of their former leader, the late Jack Layton.

During a victory speech after retaining seats in byelections in Toronto and Montreal, Trudeau took a dig at NDP leader Tom Mulcair, saying he’s different than the man who helped create the orange wave that led the party to official Opposition.

During the victory speech, Trudeau accused Mulcair of leading a negative campaign, then borrowed a line from Layton’s letter to Canadians he wrote from his death bed, saying, “It is the Liberal Party tonight that proved hope is stronger than fear.”

NDP supporters reacted strongly, saying the comments were divisive and negative.

Trudeau also famously yelled an obsenity at then-Environment Minister Peter Kent during question period in the House of Commons two years ago.

Although staying positive has bitten other Liberal leaders, Trudeau said he is confident his approach can work.

“We can have disagreements across party lines and across regions,” he said, arguing that disagreements don’t inherently have to lead to attacks. “The best ideas, the best solutions often come through compromise in different points of views to find that middle ground that will work best for everyone.”

While that’s Trudeau’s concept of politics, he admits it’s far from where the House of Commons is today.

“With the partisanship, with the negativity, with the way politics is more about sound bytes than service these days,” he said.

While in British Columbia recently, Trudeau said he didn’t even go after Industry Minister James Moore, who drew the ire of Canadians when he said hungry children weren’t Ottawa’s problem.

“I simply said, ‘look, it’s Christmas time, he’s apologized for his insensitive comments,'” Trudeau said. “It doesn’t need to be about always beating up on each other because if you do that, Canadians just continue to tune out. And the only way I think we’re going to be able to be capable as a country to face and solve the challenges we’re facing is if we focus on the things that bind us together rather than things that differentiate us.”

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