If there was ever any question about whether the Prime Minister had the ability to draw a crowd in Calgary, Justin Trudeau being mobbed on Saturday morning like he was a member of the Beatles would have erased any doubts.
Speaking at Calgary Skyview MP George Chahal’s pancake breakfast, the PM’s stop—the second of his pancake breakfasts for the July 8 morning—Trudeau turned the usual handshake photo op with politicians and dignitaries during the Stampede season on it’s head.
Gone was the group photo, eschewed in favour of meeting with the crowd that had gathered to meet the PM in person, including that of NASA administrator Bill Nelson who is in town for the Stampede, and Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi.
For many of the more than 1,000 people who gathered around Trudeau, it was an opportunity to get a handshake and a selfie. But for the PM, Chahal, and visiting federal ministers, it was an opportunity to reinforce the Liberal Party message about standing up for what they believe are Canada’s values.
“George, along with the rest of our team, will always stand up for the values in Canada strong and great. values of openness, values and respect for compassion, a willingness to work hard and a desire to be there for each other,” said Trudeau.
“Understanding that respect and openness because diversity is one of the greatest strengths that our country can have. That being able to welcome people from all around the world from so many different faiths and protected perspectives and perspectives brings a thoughtfulness and an ability to solve the great challenges that we’re facing here in Canada and around the world.”
Speaking to the crowd, Trudeau said that the challenges that the world has been facing should be faced with optimism instead of anxiety.
He referenced some of those international issues like war returning to Europe, and domestic ones like wildfires in Alberta and the post-pandemic recovery of the nation.
“Even as our economy is bouncing back, we need to continue to be there for each other,” the PM said.
“There’s a lot of reasons to feel anxious and worried about the future. There are so many reasons to be optimistic and positive and ambitious about our communities and the country.”
Stampede breakfasts important for community building
Chahal said that holding Stampede breakfasts were an important part of community, and a way to celebrate the culture and heritage of the city.
“In northeast Calgary we have a vibrant, diverse community. I always say it’s one of the most diverse constituencies in the country. The Prime Minister always says diversity is our strength and you see that diversity represented here today with thousands of Calgarians coming to this breakfast.”
Although held at the Baitun-Nur Mosque, the breakfast was attended by people from every walk of life and every cultural background.
“It’s important that we bring everybody together, and it’s important message that the community here brings in northeast Calgary that we are united, we are one, and making sure we all stand up against hatred and discrimination in all forms,” Chahal said.
Ward 11 Coun. Kourtney Penner, who also serves as on the board of directors for the Calgary Stampede, said that Saturday’s event was the third one she had attended in the day. The message of togetherness and diversity was displayed elsewhere, she said.
“What I think it goes to show is that communities really rally around Stampede and see it as an opportunity to bring diverse groups together. One thing that’s really important about this is making sure that we’re hitting all corners of the city,” Penner said.
“We have sailors flipping pancakes, we have community leaders from some of our civic partners who are here. It’s a really great opportunity to connect with each other and to see how Calgary embraces each other during this time.”
She said that the breakfasts were a rallying cry for the true spirit of Stampede.
“When you think about the culture of stampede, and I say this as a stampede board member, they have done a lot of work trying to reach out to our multicultural communities… to really get them to understand it is about coming together and it is about connection,” Penner said.
“It is not necessarily all about rodeo, it’s not necessarily all about pancakes, but we know that food is a great uniter.”
Pancakes and politics
Among the politicians who attended Chahal’s event were Minister of Defence Anita Anand, Minister of Industry François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Tourism Randy Boissonnault, representatives from the Liberal Caucus for Eastern Canada and Atlantic Canada, and municipal leaders like Sohi and St. Albert Mayor Cathy Heron.
Minister Boissonnault took the opportunity to speak about the upcoming by-election in Calgary Heritage, promoting Liberal Party candidate Elliot Weinstein, and also promoting the re-election of Chahal in the next general election against their Conservative Party of Canada rivals.
“We’re going to reject the fear and anger of Pierre Poilievre. We are going to celebrate the fact that every month you get to to Trudeau baby bucks in your bank account. We’re gonna celebrate the fact that Canada now has $10 a day childcare from coast to coast to care for families,” Boissonnault said.
“You probably received a grocery rebate two days ago. Why? Because these people behind me, George Chahal, the Prime Minister, and our entire caucus believe that when you help people you grow the economy.”
Chahal said that part of the reason for holding community events was to speak to potential liberal voters.
“I would like another colleague with me from Calgary in the House of Commons, but you know, the important work is going to where the people are and meeting folks and hearing their issues and concerns,” he said.
“That’s what I’ve done for a number of years first on city council and that was a member of parliament and I’m going to continue to do.”
Poilievre, the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, planned to have his own party gathering for supporters in Calgary on Saturday night.