Trudeau warns Liberals not to be complacent in face of Conservative, NDP leadership races

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is warning his Liberal Party not to be complacent in the face of leadership races in the federal Conservative Party and the NDP.

Mr. Trudeau issued the warning Thursday night in remarks at a party fundraiser in Vancouver that was opened to the media under new party rules.

“As we look ahead and start to think more about what else we can do to make life better for Canadians, we have to remember we’ve got competition,” Mr. Trudeau told about 300 supporters at a downtown hotel.

He referred to the Conservatives electing a new leader next weekend, on May. 27, ending a long-running leadership race, and the NDP electing their own new leader later this year. Five candidates are in the race to replace Tom Mulcair.

“History has shown these things matter,” Mr. Trudeau said. “Leadership contests are a chance to connect with more Canadians, to welcome new and returning members, to raise funds for the next election.

“The Conservatives and the NDP are doing that right now so we can’t afford to sit back and say,`Well. I’ll make donation in 2019 or volunteer when we get closer to the election.’ We need to be doing that work right now too.”

Such efforts, he said, are key to repeating the party’s election success of 2015 when it won a majority government, including 17 MPs in British Columbia, up from two before dissolution. The party has also signed up 7,000 members since last summer, said Mr. Trudeau.

The media were allowed in for Mr. Trudeau’s remarks to donors at the event, but ushered out afterwards. Tickets to the gathering ranged between $90 and $750.

The Liberals have opened up the events after facing criticism for cash-for-access fundraisers attended by high-profile guests like Mr. Trudeau and other members of cabinet. Legislation to formally open up such events is in the works.

While Mr. Trudeau spoke to donors inside, protesters gathered outside, raising concerns about such issues as the Site C hydro-electric project in northern B.C. and the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline running between Alberta and the Lower Mainland.

Mr. Trudeau’s evening fundraiser capped a day that began in Seattle with a meeting with Washington Governor Jay Inslee where they discussed the development of the Cascadia Innovation Corridor, an initiative that aims to strengthen technology industry ties between British Columbia and Washington.

The pair also spoke about trade, investment opportunities and innovation in the energy sector, Mr. Trudeau’s office said.

On arrival in the Lower Mainland, Mr. Trudeau demonstrated a a new virtual camera used by game makers at an Electronic Arts Canada studio near Vancouver. He also attended a roundtable at Electronic Arts with business leaders from health care, clean technology, digital animation and visual effects.

On Friday, the prime minister was scheduled to visit Surrey and Abbotsford.

With a file from The Canadian Press



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