Trudeau, Barbot reach out to voters in Papineau
Published Monday, April 25, 2011 11:25PM EDT
Liberal MP Justin Trudeau and his Bloc Quebecois opponent Vivian Barbot took advantage of an opportunity Monday night to present their respective parties priorities, and their personal ones as well, to the voters in Papineau riding.
About 200 people showed up to the citizen-led debate, and while that may seem like a small number, every vote is precious in a riding where Trudeau defeated Barbot by about 1,200 ballots in 2008.
"My priorities are to bring people together," Trudeau told the crowd. "This is a riding that is strong not in spite of its differences, but because of them."
The riding, encompassing Parc Extension and parts of Villeray and Saint-Michel, has a heavy immigrant population with issues that Barbot knows very well having served as a well-known community activist.
"I want them to know, as a former immigrant myself because most of them are immigrants, how much I care for them," Barbot said. "What makes a difference is the importance you give to being with people and trying to find ways to work with them."
While Trudeau cannot claim to have had the same hands on exposure to the population, he says he has learned a lot about the riding in his two and a half years in office representing the riding in Ottawa.
"I know the issues here," he said. "I've worked on the ground, I've been present."
The questionsfrom the crowd covered a wide range of issues, from the environment, to the arts, education and immigration policies.
"What I liked about what Mr. Trudeau said is if we tell you you're qualified to come here, then you are qualified to come here and work in your industry," said Mo Sougal, a voter who works with immigrants, referring to the recognition of foreign credentials for professionals.
With the race so tight in the riding, both Trudeau and Barbot conceded that it may come down to which candidate can get more voters to the ballot box on election day.
"It's connecting on the ground with as many people as we can," Trudeau said. "It will come down to the wire."