Justin Trudeau speech to party faithful leaked

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau acknowledges applause from supporters during a rally at the Hilton...

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau acknowledges applause from supporters during a rally at the Hilton hotel in Quebec City, February 19, 2014. REUTERS/Mathieu Belanger

Giuseppe Valiante, National Bureau

, Last Updated: 10:33 PM ET

MONTREAL - Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau's speech attacking Quebec Premier Pauline Marois and Prime Minister Stephen Harper was leaked two hours before he delivered it to delegates at the party's policy convention.

The party didn't cut the feed to the media room while Trudeau practiced the speech, which kicked off the convention Thursday.

When Trudeau finally gave the speech live, the hundreds of people packed into a downtown Montreal convention centre roared their approval anyway.

He said the PQ's secularism charter, which seeks to ban government employees from wearing religious symbols in the workplace, is "unrealistic" and "unthinkable" for a growing economy.

Trudeau said he had "no interest in joining Mulcair and Harper in a competition seeing who can make Canadians angrier."

Trudeau's speech was preceded Thursday by a short talk to delegates by Lawrence Summers, who worked under two U.S. presidents and was highly influential in the decision to deregulate America's financial industry - a decision that was partly blamed for the Great Recession of the late 2000s.

Liberal MP Dominic Leblanc defended Summers and said the Harvard academic is highly regarded in the financial world.

The convention provides an opportunity for the Liberals to show Canadians what the party stands for. Trudeau has been criticized for lacking substance and failing to provide significant policy ideas - other than legalizing marijuana - since becoming leader last spring.

Convention delegates will debate resolutions about reforming the Criminal Code to legalize euthanasia, also known as doctor-assisted suicide. Some delegates also want the party - if elected - to consider changing the country's electoral system to include proportional representation.

This weekend's policy convention is Trudeau's first as leader and also the first time he faces the party after his decision to kick the party's senators from the Liberal caucus. Trudeau has been dogged by questions regarding the effectiveness and meaning of his decision to expel the dozens of Liberal senators.

A concrete change that has occurred for the former Liberals senators is they are cut off from certain party resources, said Sen. James Cowan, who leads the former Liberal Senate caucus.

He said the caucus lost a lot of its research resources when Trudeau kicked them out.

"We always relied on the Liberal research bureau, now that's gone," he said.

Cowan said the former Liberal senators will pool their office money in order to have cash to launch upcoming projects. He added that there are "interesting ideas" on how the former caucus will continue its work.

The Liberal convention runs until Sunday and Friday's sessions will include a keynote speech by former Canadian general and Liberal Party adviser Andrew Leslie.

Leslie, who is expected to run for the party in the 2015 elections, has been publicly criticized by Defence Minister Rob Nicholson for charging taxpayers $72,000 to move within the city of Ottawa in 2013.

News reports revealed this week that other former high-ranking military leaders also charged taxpayers similar amounts for in-city moves.

Nicholson said Wednesday that he would review the federal program that permitted some ex-military brass to expense such high amounts to taxpayers.


Videos

Photos