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Canada  

Trudeau: Keep it positive

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sharpened his core re-election message on Sunday, telling his MPs to present a positive message to Canadians while he branded his Conservative opponents as a detached party of the elite.

The prime minister delivered a campaign-style speech at the start of a two-day Liberal caucus retreat on Parliament Hill, characterizing his party as a beacon of hope for Canadians in a world of upheaval. At the same time, Trudeau attacked the opposition Conservatives as a party rooted in the past and mired in the divisiveness of its former leader, Stephen Harper.

While the prime minister wielded political attacks against Harper and current Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, the message to rank-and-file MPs in the four-hour, closed-door meeting was to keep it positive in their ridings, insiders said.

The MPs discussed the strategy for the federal election in October, where the "importance of a positive message and not personal attacks" was stressed to "contrast with the opposition," one source said.

Much like the party's successful "sunny ways" strategy in 2015, this year's campaign will be "all about positive politics," Health Minister Ginette Petipas-Taylor said after the meeting.

"Our caucus is going to be engaged in making sure that Canadians are aware of the good work that we've done, and also that we want to continue to meet the needs of all Canadians."

Trudeau used his speech to tell his MPs to stay focused on helping Canadians at home in this coming election year, despite the anxiety created by global turbulence.

He referred to the China-U.S. trade war and the pending Brexit divorce of Britain and Europe, as well as the threat of climate change and the economic upheaval of lost jobs to artificial intelligence.

But Trudeau avoided mention of the other woes that have undercut his government's attempts to grow the economy and diversify trade, including the wide gulf in relations with China, and uncertainty about moving forward with Canada's top ally and trading partner — the Trump protectionists in Washington.

Trudeau took several partisan shots at the Conservatives, saying they have no plan for tackling climate change and the economy, while citing Liberal gains in lowering taxes and unemployment. The prime minister singled out the Canada Child Benefit as a boon to working families.

He accused the Conservatives of voting against several of his government's initiatives in an effort to "protect the wealthy, the well-connected, and the powerful," at the expense of working Canadians — even referencing a campaign slogan used by conservative Ontario Premier Doug Ford.

"Make no mistake: The Conservatives pretend to be 'for the people,' but that couldn't be further from the truth. This is still very much the party of Stephen Harper," Trudeau said.

"We have sent a clear signal to the rest of the world — Canadians are ready to work and Canada is best place to do business."



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