Justin Trudeau says that if he is elected leader of the federal Liberal party, he will be a strong supporter of Canadian businesses, while maintaining a responsible attitude toward environmental and social issues.
Trudeau made the commitment Jan. 28 at an event at Hotel Arts in Calgary.
It was his final stop on an Alberta tour which Trudeau hoped would shore up support for his leadership bid.
The Liberal Party will choose its new leader April 14 in Ottawa.
In his Calgary speech, the son of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau stressed the need for a cohesive energy strategy in the country.
He joked that while he wouldn’t call it a National Energy Program (NEP), a controversial policy from his dad’s time, he supports a “pan-Canadian strategy on how we develop our energy resources.”
Trudeau said that Canada needs to diversify not only what it produces, but also the markets to which it sells.
“We need to also ensure that we are developing markets for our products and our resources,” he said.
He named Asia as a specific example of diversification from the traditional U.S. markets.
“We are too small a market to be able to properly capitalize and develop our natural resources on our own. We need foreign direct investment, which is why I was so in favour of the CNOC-Nexen deal.”
Trudeau also stressed that he is not against all pipelines, only the Northern Gateway Pipeline proposal, which would carry bitumen from the Alberta oil sands across northern B.C.
He said his main reasons for opposition to Gateway was “the lack of partnership and consultation with First Nations groups,” which he says would “doom,” the project, and its potential to harm the Great Bear Rainforest, which he called an “environmental treasure.”
Trudeau also expressed concern about the tanker traffic that the pipeline will create on the B.C. coast which could negatively affect Canadians who make a living in the area.
The future of Canada depends upon developing industry and technology that will “add value” to our natural resources, he said.
“It’s a calculation that Sweden made with its forestry industry when they decided, unlike Canada which sells wooden planks, to sell IKEA instead.
“But more than just adding value through adding technology, we have to make sure we’re investing in…skills-development, training, apprenticeships, jobs (and) education.”
Questioned about his stance on marijuana, Trudeau said he wants to bring the topic of legalization back to the table.
“I have been very clear that I am not simply in favour of decriminalization of marijuana, I’m in favour of tax and regulation – that is legalization.”
Trudeau said that it was important to remove marijuana as a source of profit for criminal elements in the country and to differentiate users as addicts rather than criminals.
“I don’t think it makes sense to criminalize and entire generation of users,” he said.
He said that many parents he has spoken to believe that controlled access to the drug through pharmacies or liquor stores “is a better way of keeping it out of the hands of our kids than allowing the black market and pushers to be on street corners.”