By: Sophie Desrosiers

Liberal leadership candidate Justin Trudeau speaks in Orleans about post secondary education. Trudeau is touring the country discussing his political platform.

In a meet and greet in Orleans on Feb. 11, Liberal leadership candidate Justin Trudeau spoke about the importance of students and post-secondary education for Canada’s future.

As the race for the Liberal leadership at the federal level nears its’ end, Trudeau is touring the country in a series of events hoping to reach as many voters as possible.

On his stop in Ottawa, one of the issues Trudeau spoke about was how we can ensure Canadian citizens are as prosperous as possible.

“First of all, we have to understand that education is the key to everything,” he said to a packed crowd of avid supporters at D’Arcy McGee’s on Centrum Blvd. in Orleans. Trudeau explained that 70 per cent of jobs require some form of post-secondary training or education. Based on this figure, Trudeau would like to see Canadians’ participation in post-secondary education closer to that 70 per cent mark; a climb of close to 20 per cent from the current number of citizens with a post-secondary education.

“We are, right now, the only developed country that’s even slightly over 50 per cent, so we have a long way to go,” he said. He then paused and glanced over the crowd before once again highlighting the importance of the matter, “But we have to get education right.”

Mauril Bélanger, Ottawa-Vanier MP and Trudeau supporter, agrees that post-secondary education is incredibly important to the success of this country, especially while the rest of the world is struggling economically.

He thinks Trudeau’s vision of bringing the percentage of educated Canadians up is “a necessity” quite simply put.

Bélanger and Trudeau have both pointed out that wanting and expecting better for one’s children has always been a part of a Canadian’s life, something many have taken for granted. But a more sobering picture is slowly emerging, making parents and young adults wonder if their children really will have more opportunities.

“Right now, we’re headed the other way, and that’s not good,” said Bélanger with concern in his voice. “The best way to make sure that that doesn’t happen, that we do keep increasing quality of life among all Canadians, is by having a more highly educated population, and that means post-secondary.”

But why does Trudeau choose to focus more attention on students and education than other candidates seem to, especially in a society where many young people can’t be bothered to be involved in politics?

“Because for me the challenges we’re facing are going to require us, as a society, to ask tough questions of the status quo,” said Trudeau. “For me, investing in young people, bringing them into the conversation, harnessing their idealism, their willingness to challenge the way things have always been done is an essential part of us moving forward in a responsible way.”

Trudeau believes his past would help him reach a younger crowd and get them more involved if he wins Liberal leadership.

“What I’ve done in my entire career has been engage with them as much as I possibly can. From the high schools, universities, colleges and young professionals groups I’ve been to across the country, to any number of young people that I have involved volunteering on my team,” he said. “This is about a new generation taking hold in politics.”

Trudeau hopes to reach the skeptical crowd of young adults too.

“Young people who are deeply committed to changing the world but who don’t feel that politics is a good way of doing that are going to come around to the fact that politics done this way is a very powerful way to change the world,” he said.

Bélanger believes if any Liberal candidate is up to the task, it’s Justin Trudeau.

“Justin connects very well with young people,” said Bélanger. “He wants to make sure they know with him as leader, and hopefully someday as prime minister, young people will be heard.”