Trudeau mania floods SLC

The SLC Great Hall overflowed with students on Wednesday afternoon waiting to hear the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, Justin Trudeau, speak. He was greeted by thunderous applause from the audience. After an introduction by Feds’ VP of education, Stephane Hamade, Trudeau began to speak to his audience, focusing on the issue of youth voter turnout, political apathy amongst young people, and stressing the importance of long-term planning and decision-making.

Trudeau's visit was planned by the Political Science Student Associaion (PSSA), the UW Young Liberals, and Feds. 

The Liberal leader spent the next 45 minutes taking questions from the audience. The subjects introduced by the students were highly varied, ranging from the Israeli-Palestine conflict, to the legalization of marijuana, to the cost of post-secondary education.

Some of his responses involved the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which was brought up several times throughout the Q&A session. He expressed the importance of Canada’s role as a global peacekeeping force. Trudeau added his frustration with the way the Canadian government is currently handling the situation, stating, “I have a very difficult time thinking about how the prime minister has polarized this [Israeli-Palestinian] debate.” He further expressed his view that Canada cannot solve the conflict, but can be a part by helping foster a two-state solution that can ultimately end the decades-long conflict.

His comment on the federal government’s polarization of the Israeli-Palestine conflict was not the first, nor the last comment made against Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative majority government. He continued to speak against Harper’s “divisive” politics and “vote suppression,” which he claims are the methods by which the Conservative Party achieved a majority.

Trudeau also mentioned several of his ideas for making post-secondary education more accessible, one of which was to provide an education savings plan that lasts throughout one’s life rather than simply through the teenage years and early adulthood.

In an exclusive one-on-one interview with <em>Imprint</em>, Trudeau said he would like Canada to reach a 70 per cent attainment rate in post-secondary education.

&ldquo;We&rsquo;re sitting at about 50 per cent, we need to get that extra 20 per cent because we know the jobs in the future, seven out of 10 of them, are going to require some sort of post-secondary, whether it&rsquo;s university, college or apprenticeship,&rdquo; Trudeau said.

&nbsp;This would provide support for adults who require further training in their field, or people who wish to change careers. &ldquo;The jobs you will be doing in 30 years don&rsquo;t even exist yet,&rdquo; he said.

When <em>Imprint</em> asked what his youth employment strategy would encompass if he and the Liberals were to achieve a Liberal majority government, Trudeau said, &ldquo;We need to make sure our young people aren&rsquo;t just getting jobs, but the best jobs possible. A strong economy is the one that employs the largest number of people with the best possible jobs. That&rsquo;s something we have to work out with institutions, provinces, and the private sector to build a path towards strong and meaningful employment for our young people.&rdquo;

One of the last topics touched upon in the Q&amp;A session has already been identified as one of the biggest debates of the coming federal election: Trudeau&rsquo;s support of the legalization of marijuana.

&ldquo;The war on drugs does not work, I don&rsquo;t care how many attack ads Stephen Harper makes of me,&rdquo; Trudeau said. &ldquo;Kids have an easier time getting marijuana than they do getting alcohol and cigarettes, and that&rsquo;s wrong.&rdquo;

Following the question period, Trudeau took 15 minutes to mingle with students that immediately surrounded him before he left the Great Hall to speak with the press.

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