Justin Trudeau ended his campaign Sunday in the province where it began, in British Columbia.
At a rousing rally, with close to 3,000 people, Trudeau stood in front of a huge Canadian flag and talked about his family legacy in North Vancouver. His grandfather Jimmy Sinclair represented the riding, for 17 years.
“I’ve adopted his style as my own,” said Trudeau.
Earlier in the day, Trudeau campaigned in Edmonton and Calgary where he asked the crowd to sing Happy Birthday to his eight-year-old, Xavier. Oct. 18 is also the birth date of Justin’s late father, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, who died in 2000.
The Trudeau team dashed across Canada this weekend, stopping in six provinces over two days. If the latest polls bear out, the Liberals are in position to win the greatest number of seats in Monday’s election.
Trudeau’s campaign for change captured the imagination of those seeking to oust Stephen Harper’s government; at the Liberal rallies, that got the biggest cheers. Adding a softening NDP vote to the mix put the Liberals in contention.
Over the final weekend while the Conservatives continued to urge citizens to ‘vote for their pocketbook, not personality,’ the Liberal team pushed out their leader to meet as many supporters as possible in the last burst of campaigning, capitalizing on his ability to inspire supporters.
By the weekend, the rallies were reaching a fevered pitch with fans wanting to touch and grab Trudeau as he pushed through suffocating crowds, causing concern for the RCMP detail trying to protect him, but adding energy to a campaign peaking at an opportune time.
The resignation last week of campaign co-chair Dan Gagnier, over questions of ethics hurt the Liberals, but seemingly not enough to derail their rise.
If Trudeau becomes the prime minister-designate on Monday night, it will be the first time in Canada a father and son have held the top job in Canadian politics.
At every stop, Liberals dished out anecdotes of meeting Pierre Elliott Trudeau and his captivating campaign in 1968.
An older woman in Ajax, Ontario whispered “I got a kiss from his father many years ago, I’ve come to see his son.” Another woman in St. Catherines pulled out an old Christmas card with Prime Minister Trudeau and his three young sons, Justin the eldest.
In Montreal, a man shouted, “your Dad was my hero.” During the later stages of his career, Trudeau was a deeply polarizing figure especially as westerners cursed him for the National Energy Program. Feuds with Ottawa over Alberta’s resources ensured that no new Liberal in Calgary was elected after 1968, and the last Liberal seat in Alberta disappeared in 2006.
While in Alberta Sunday, Trudeau referenced the western alienation directly, saying “I care deeply about Alberta,” and “I’m proud to say that as a Liberal, as a Trudeau, and as a Quebecker.”
Later during a news conference, Trudeau said “I won’t use western resources to buy eastern votes.”
“It sounded good instead of having different regions of the country competing and playing off each other it’s a really necessary message that we all come together because we do need Quebec, and quite frankly they need us,” said Jennifer Minsos at the Edmonton rally.
As the Liberal team waits for Monday night’s result, there is a feeling they’ve already made gains.
Justin Trudeau, who entered the race with low expectations, exceeded them and moved up in the polls. The Liberals, with only 34 seats to show in the 2011 election, are poised to capture many more.
If Justin Trudeau has done one thing alone, it’s that he’s resuscitated a moribund Liberal Party.