Liberal leader Justin Trudeau poses for a selfie with a supporter following a rally in Edmonton Aug. 19, 2014. Dan Riedlhuber/Reuters
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau says he wants to win 170 seats in the House of Commons – a majority of the 338 seats that will make up the House after the 2015 election.
Taking 170 MPs to Parliament would mean quadrupling the number the Liberals have now. But the party says it's spending the next year — until the October 2015 fixed election date — preparing to do just that.
A majority would also make him the second Prime Minister Trudeau, following his father Pierre, who was prime minister for most of the years between 1968 and 1984.
"Canadians want a stable, strong government that's going to respond to their needs and build a better future. You do the math," Trudeau told reporters in Edmonton at the party's summer retreat, adopting language the Conservatives used to campaign for their own majority government in 2011.
Asked what the number 170 means to him, Trudeau said it would mean the Liberals "have connected with Canadians, and that we've worked hard to earn the trust and confidence with Canadians, that we're going to be able to provide a better government that will cover the entire country."
The Liberals now hold just 37 seats after plummeting from 78 in the 2011 election. They're well behind the federal NDP, the Official Opposition, in party standings.
Low turnout at rally
The party says it knows it's got a lot of work to do, something made clear at a rally Tuesday night that drew closer to 350 supporters, rather than the 600 to 1,000 some in the party expected.
Even though the election campaign isn't due to start for another year, the Liberals say they've got 84 candidates nominated — seven times more than the NDP — and that they're doing well in fundraising and membership sales.
They're also sitting on top of the polls.
Liberal MP Scott Andrews sits on the election readiness committee.
"Everything's on schedule, the fundraising's going well and the organizational piece is coming together, so [judging] from my experience of 20 years involved in politics, [I'm] quite comfortable with where [we are] right now."
Conservative MP Chris Warkentin says the Liberals are dreaming.
"The Liberals can wish as much as they want. I think what we know is that Canadians will make the right choice and continue to support the government that has supported their priorities," he said.
"What we have seen even over the last number of days is the Liberals have come out with no policies with regards to the things that matter to Canadians: jobs, opportunity and long-term prosperity."
A leap from third-party to contender for government isn't unprecedented: the New Democrats surprised everyone in 2011 by doing it themselves.