By Medicine Hat News on October 11, 2016.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is proving to be a hot ticket in Medicine Hat, where he is scheduled to appear this week with local party byelection candidate Stan Sakamoto.
The Thursday event, billed as a meet and greet campaign stop, was announced in the early evening on Thanksgiving Monday, and quickly hundreds of Hatters registered for free tickets.
The prime ministerâ€™s itinerary is still being developed, said officials on Tuesday, but could include some meetings with local government, business groups and others.
However, party officials stated the primary reason for the visit is for Trudeau to meet constituents and, right now, no official government business is planned.
â€œHe wants to come and hear from Southern Alberta families directly about the struggles that they’ve been facing,â€ said Braeden Caley, the senior director of communications for the party.
â€œItâ€™s been a major theme of Stanâ€™s campaign; putting his work of 30-plus years and business leadership to work for families.â€
â€œ(They) both have a very open style and thereâ€™s an opportunity to engage as many people as possible in an event that is as open as possible. Thatâ€™s what will happen on Thursday night.â€
Sakamoto, a well-known local businessman, joined the race on Oct. 1 and has created some stir in riding that traditionally voted overwhelmingly for conservative parties.
Entrance to the event is free of charge, but attendees must register on the Liberal Party of Canadaâ€™s website.
The event will be one of the first to be held in the newly redeveloped Beveridge Building, at 620 Second St. S.E, which is now known as Beveridge Landmark Events.
Trudeau last visited Medicine Hat during the 2013 party leadership campaign during which he packed a luncheon at the Medicine Hat Golf and Country Club.
That event was seen as a rejuvenating force of the local party that had struggled in recent elections at that point, placing third in 2008 and 2011.
In 2015, local college business instructor Glen Allan boosted the partyâ€™s vote total as the Liberal won a national majority, but still placed well back of the winning Conservative candidate.
Voters will choose a new federal representative on Oct. 24 to fill a vacancy left by the death in office of Conservative MP Jim Hillyer last spring.
Six candidates are officially registered to run, including former Medicine Hat police inspector Glen Motz for the Conservatives. That party won the October 2015 vote with 68 per cent of the ballots cast.
Justin Trudeau was also in the city as an infant with his parents in 1972 when his father, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, and mother Margaret, travelled by train across country on vacation.
It is believed that was the most recent visit to the city by a sitting prime minister.