The meet and greet event was a relatively casual affair, with Trudeau circulating through the crowd to chat and take photos with as many people as possible before he headed to his next stop, in Nelson.
During the last federal election, “there was tremendous interest from around here,” the 41-year-old Trudeau told the Advance after the reception. “I’m not giving up on any places in Canada as places where the Liberals aren’t relevant.”
Those places include small towns, which, he said, are just as important as larger centres.
“People tend to forget that’s what Canada is,” said Trudeau. “We’re a country of big cities but with small towns scattered across this beautiful land.”
In order to get to know all of the country’s residents and earn their respect, it’s vital to actually meet them.
“You don’t do that from an office in Ottawa,” said Trudeau, the son of former Canadian prime minister Pierre Trudeau, who served from 1968-79 and 1980-84.
In the hour or so he spent at the Erickson fruit stand, Trudeau said he learned that local farmers are concerned about water systems infrastructure and high water rates.
“It’s an opportunity to start a conversation that gets heard by people in the halls of power,” he said.
Trudeau’s tour is part of a family vacation, with the goal of hiking with his children, Xavier and Ella-Grace, to Kokanee Lake, the site where an avalanche killed his younger brother, Michel, in 1998.
Trudeau said he visited Creston about 12 years ago for the Kokanee Summit, the now-defunct music festival held by the Columbia Brewery, while raising funds in honour of his brother for the Kokanee Glacier Cabin. In a brief speech, he expressed his excitement to be back among the hard-working farmers of the Creston Valley.
Trudeau also took the opportunity to educate the crowd about the federal Liberal Party, which would create a government “based on facts and best practices, not on partisan electoral advantage.”
Although he doesn’t see the Conservatives as mean-spirited, he does feel that the ruling party is “unambitious for our country.” Challenges — such as the economy, First Nations, education and health care — are not being met with any decisive action.
“They throw up their hands and say, ‘You know what? We’re better than Spain.’ ”
He hopes that, should the Liberals form the next government of Canada, it would encourage more citizens to see a purpose in getting involved.
“We’re tired of having to be cynical about politics,” he said.