The prime minister's tour gets real in Peterborough -

The prime minister’s tour gets real in Peterborough

Any sense that Justin Trudeau’s cross-country tour would be some kind of easy charade was disabused in Peterborough, Ont.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a news conference in Peterborough, Ont. Friday January 13, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a news conference in Peterborough, Ont. Friday January 13, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

One of the last questions of the morning came from a little girl sitting near the back of the banquet hall in Peterborough, Ont. She looked seven, maybe eight, and was wearing a pink shirt. “Why did you choose to run for Prime Minister?” she asked.

Justin Trudeau smiled. “What was I thinking?” he replied. Everyone laughed.

“I’ve been lucky in my life,” the Prime Minister continued. “I’ve been very, very lucky, and I recognize that. I got to go to great schools, I got to meet amazing people around the world: kings, queens, Aga Khans, popes—a broad range of amazing people.”

Aga Khans? Wait, did he really just say that?

It happened so fast the intent was hard to spot. Was Trudeau poking fun at himself, acknowledging the private-helicopter controversy that has overshadowed the first leg of his nationwide “listening” tour? Or did he genuinely slip up, hoping that if he kept on talking nobody would notice?

They did notice, of course. Within seconds, the crowd was buzzing—a mix of jeers and applause.

Anne Kingston joins our politics podcast to discuss Trudeau’s tour:

All told, Trudeau held court in Peterborough for barely an hour Friday morning, taking questions from 11 audience members on day two of his reconnecting-with-Canadians road trip. Some queries were softballs (one young boy asked him what it was like to have a Prime Minister for a father). Others were even easier (“Will you be attending the grand reopening of the Canadian Canoe Museum later this summer?”) But to suggest, as some have, this is some kind of charade—a jaunt through Liberal-friendly venues—would be wrong. There were plenty of tense moments, even before the PM’s unexpected Aga Khan reference.

MORE: Anne Kingston on the first stop of Trudeau’s tour

“I don’t know much about Liberals or Conservatives or any of that,” one woman, later identified as Kathy Katula, told Trudeau. “I’m just a Christian, single, hard-working mom who lives in rural Buckhorn, Ont. I have overcome many things in my life, many hardships: from growing up in a single-parent household, to being a rape victim, to recovering from meningitis in the brain and undergoing multiple operations to survive for my family, to recovering from a medical error that left me in a coma for three days—and being told I will never walk again. But I’m here today, Mr. Trudeau, very honoured and proud to be a Canadian.”

Holding back tears, Katula described how she overcame her illness, went back to college, found a job as a personal support worker, and eventually purchased a house. “I bought that home and I’m proud,” she continued. “But something is wrong now, Mr. Trudeau: my heat and my hydro now cost me more than my mortgage.”

The crowd erupted in applause. “Shame!” some audience members yelled. “Shame!”

“How,” she went on, “is it justified for you to ask me to pay a carbon tax when I only have $65 left in my paycheque every two weeks to feed my family?” More applause.

Trudeau stood there and listened, berated on camera like few prime ministers ever have. (It didn’t take long for Twitter to chime in, either. Former Conservative MP Jason Kenney, now running for Alberta’s PC leadership, described the video this way: “Trust fund millionaire who parties @ Davos & flies to billionaire’s private island lectures desperate middle class woman on ‘carbon pricing.’ ”)

“Your strength, your determination, is an inspiration and an example to us all,” Trudeau said, when it was finally his turn to speak. “We are a country in which anyone with a quarter of your strength, of your drive, should be thriving and focused on how you are going to spoil your grandchildren with all your energy, as opposed to how you are going to get through the week or the day.”

Although Trudeau pointed out the obvious—that hydro bills are a provincial jurisdiction, not a federal one—he did acknowledge that his government’s plan to price carbon emissions is “causing consternation amongst a broad range of people, and I understand.” He also said it will be up to provinces to redistribute the money they receive from the carbon tax so that people like Katula aren’t left to struggle.

“We need to get off fossil fuels,” he said. “We need to make this transition.”


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a town hall meeting in Peterborough, Ont. Friday January 13, 2017. (Adrian Wyld/CP)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a town hall meeting in Peterborough, Ont. Friday January 13, 2017. (Adrian Wyld/CP)

Speaking of transition, Trudeau’s most controversial comment of the day came after a question about the newly approved Kinder Morgan pipeline, and how it fits into the Liberals’ plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. “I’ve said time and time again, and you’re all tired of hearing me say it: You can’t make a choice between what’s good for the environment and what’s good for the economy,” he said. “We can’t shut down the oil sands tomorrow. We need to phase them out.”

Phase them out? Trudeau was still in Peterborough when the backlash began.

“The verdict is in,” said a statement released by Wildrose Leader Brian Jean. “Prime Minister Trudeau has confirmed Albertans’ worst fears about his Liberal government and its plans for our energy sector. By vowing to ‘phase out’ the oil sands, Mr. Trudeau has declared his true feelings towards our province, and Western Canada as a whole.”

The Prime Minister wrapped up his Peterborough Q&A just before noon, then posed for some photos as he made his way to the back of the room. At 12:30 p.m., when he returned to the banquet hall for a press conference, reporters grilled him—yet again—about his Christmas vacation at the Aga Khan’s private island at the Bahamas. (On Thursday, Trudeau admitted that he travelled to the island on the Aga Khan’s private helicopter, an apparent breach of the Conflict of Interest Act.)

MORE: Jason Markusoff on Trudeau’s false equivalency on Davos vs. Canadian tour

“How much do you think Canadians actually care that you took a private helicopter belonging to the Aga Khan to Bell Island?” one reporter asked.

“I have said a number of times this was our personal family vacation, and any questions that the Ethics Commissioner has, and that Canadians have, we are happy to engage with,” Trudeau replied. “I think what we’ve had is conversations today which highlight that Canadians are worried about the future, they are worried about the economy, they are worried about growth for the middle class.”

The reporter asked again. “I need to follow up on that because I don’t believe, with respect, that you’ve answered the question,” he said. “The question is very simply: How much do you think Canadians care that you took a private helicopter to Bell Island?”

Trudeau: “The fact is I’ve been engaging with Canadians over the past two days in coffee shops and town halls on a broad range of issues, and the issues they are talking about are issues that affect themselves, their kids, our environment, our economy. I will continue to answer any questions they have.”

On to the next stop.


The prime minister’s tour gets real in Peterborough

  1. ‘How much do you think Canadians care that you took a private helicopter to Bell Island?”’

    They don’t.

    • justin you made gas prices hydro and natural gas prices federal responsibility as soon as tax was added. no Canadian wants tax canadians want responsibility to go to goverment . we didn’t want people to apply to become senators just fix the problems . don’t need job creation senate Canadian gets a vacation anytime they want. I really see no reason for G7 so cancel that meeting too . Maybe have a meeting with the salvation army and talk to the homeless instead.cutting out goverment is the way Canadians will respect you if that’s even possible at this point

    • It’s not the helicopter per se — it’s the hypocrisy.

      • There is none.

        Are you supposed to avoid rich people because you might offend a poor person?

        • He broke the Gov’t guide lines and his own .Should the taxpayers just ignore his flaunting this type of behaviour?

          • No he didn’t

            And I think the taxpayers have more important concerns than your ‘trivial pursuit’ games.

        • EMILYONE yes Canadians do care and very much. Mr. Trudeau should care as well because if you are as old as you say you are, you will remember what happened to the last arrogant liberal government who’s catch phrase was “I’m entitled to my entitlements”
          Sorry but many liberals are cringing right now hoping all of them stop this attitude really soon.
          More than that the Prime Minister will be investigated something they don’t need coming off off the expense scandal.

    • Actually, I believe that many Canadians do care, but for different reasons.
      That the Aga Khan is a personal friend of the Trudeau family cannot be argued or criticized, but there is a conflict of interest when he is a major contributor to the LPC. Justin’s interpretation of the acceptance of commercial benefits of contributions is very wrong to the point of corruption (Remember how many people shouted, ‘Lock her up’. Yes, many people).
      Using the Aga Khan’s private helicopter as the only transport to the island is a very poor excuse … not because there are also many boats available but (and why has this never been mentioned) there is the important question of security for a head of state. The PMUK and the POTUS, for example, would never be permitted to use a private helicopter … and Canada does have government helicopters (should we contemplate their serviceability) and, as a millionaire, he could pay for the private use … or go elsewhere.

      • Senseless whining.

        • When it was Harp, you were the one doing all the “senseless whining” and you loved every pathetic moment of it so don’t expect anyone to cut your boy some slack just because he is your boy and not Harp. He gets to answer to the same press and the same ethics commissioner.

          • Senseless whining.

  2. Justin: Hydro bills are a provincial responsibility.

    Hey Justin, health care is a provincial responsibility too. It doesn’t seem to stop you from telling them how to run their health care systems.

    • The Feds help pay for it Weetabix…..that’s how come they can tell the provinces how to run things.

    • Just imagine my friend, Justin Trudeau is giving Canadians an opportunity to look a PM of our country straight in the eyes, and ask any question they choose to, what an experience, to be able to tell their families, their friends, parents, children, grandchildren and teachers, that they had a once in a life experience to ask a question to a sitting PM, and get a response, maybe not the one they wanted, but an answer. Just imagine that experience in it self, several hundred lucky Canadians having the opportunity to talk directly to a PM and looking straight in his eyes(wish i could), it’s unheard of in this country. It’s OK for the MSM to laugh this off as a joke because they look in Trudeau’s eyes everyday to ask questions, but it’s definitely new for this country and its people. And if opposition are going to take Trudeau on in the next election, they better brush up on their retail politics, or they will be sitting in opposition for years to come, because Trudeau is now raising the bar for retail politics. If your not good at pressing the flesh with Canadians, than don’t to run, cause politics has changed since the dinosaurs last ruled the country.

      • Ah yes. The thought of “snake oil salesmen” OR “The Music Man” comes to mind.

        • no, its of a politician who has to navigate the reality of very hard choices, where it is impossible to please everyone, and keep the long term interests of the citizens of this country in sight.

          • Hard choices….as in go to the Aga Khan’s private island or a very upscale resort in the Carribean on holiday…..making sure to redact any non family member’s names off the flight manifest.

      • Unheard of in this country? My father was on a radio program in Edmonton with Justin’s dad in the 1970’s. It isn’t unheard of. It is the go to strategy for the Libs whenever they f*ck up and let their arrogance show on the one hand while they are robbing us blind with the other hand. The lady from Peterborough should have pressed Justin about his carbon footprint and why if it is so essential that Canadians like her pay a carbon tax, is he burning such a high amount of fossil fuels per capita for a lavish tropical holiday when the truth is that he could have gone to his retreat that we provide him at the beautiful Lake Harrington for his entire vacation. For a guy so concerned about climate change, he sure likes to act reckless with those jet fuels.

      • Funny because most Canadians want him back in Ottawa working as Prime Minister.
        The election is over time to get to work making hard decisions and then accepting responsibility for those choices.
        That is what most Canadians want and a picture with Mr Trudeau won’t change the fact that people are struggling to pay their bills because of new taxes.

  3. This is Justin Trudeau, tilling the soil for future elections, and farming the new generation of voters, not relying on the past. This of course, drives the opposition Nuts. Alberta, take a chill pill, i am from the east and respect Alberta for all they have done for the east part of our country, for all the jobs, but i have to say, get over your whining, and your always complaining like you’re the only province going through financial pain. For 40 years Alberta was run in the ground by conservative governments spending like drunken sailors and cleaned out your bank account. Now Alberta wants to blame Notley and Ottawa. I live in one of the most expensive places in the country from the tree line down to the 49th, in NL., and we need as much or more help than you, because we too, had a conservative government rape and pillage our bank account, so suck it up Alberta and get over it, your looking like a bunch of whining little babies. Alberta, you have pipelines coming down the pipe in the future, Trudeau has done everything but lick your butts to try and help with your cause, you’re ungrateful and disrespectful to the rest of the country with these tirade tantrums because you can’t get your way, and eventually reality will set in that the oil sands will phase out, just ask your favorite PM(Harper) who just got the boot.

    • We don’t need to take a chill pill. In case you didn’t hear, it was -40 degrees Celsius when Jane Fonda landed in fire ravaged Fort McMurray to warn all and sundry about the effects of the oilsands on climate change. Shame Justin did choose to join her but apparently, he is officially off her Christmas card list. Justin will “phase out” the oilsands when there is no more money to wring out of them.

  4. Its time Canada put this ignorant piece of crap in PRISON.
    Lock the bum up.

    • Another member of the CPOC….Crackpot Party of Canada

  5. Why is this a transition Canada has to make when we are responsible for less then 2 percent of the worlds carbon emissions? This tax is completely unjustified and to excessive. Any goon pushing this tax through needs to be dealt with.

    • Our carbon emissions don’t just stay overhead in Canada……they join the emissions of other countries and travel globally. And their emissions come here.

      Like it or not, we all have to cut back.

      • This is laughable Emily. In your very first comment above you say “it’s just a helicopter”. Alluding to the fact it’s just really small insignificant thing that Justin did. No big deal.

        But then when someone mentions how insignificant Canada’s CO2 % is. Last measured at 1.6% and estimated to be currently 1.8% — you make a big deal out of it.

        You need to stay CONSISTENT in your arguments.

        Now — one thing I would suggest is to start educating yourself on the recent Cap & Trade agreements between Ontario, Quebec and California. I think it will bring some reality to the CO2 fairy-tale.

        • Try to focus Chip.

          We all have to cut back on emissions. Period.

          Somehow you interpret this as Justin shouldn’t use a chopper, but you can use a car.

          What we need is a different fuel.

          • Chip probably uses his car to go to work so he can pay taxes so the SPECIAL one can go on EXPENSIVE holidays on our dime.

        • Well actually demers10…..he IS the special one. He’s the PM

          You’re not.

          And aircraft are essential in his job

          You folks all NDP areya? Make the rich pay slogans and stuff?

          • I will give you a point about him being SPECIAL along with you He can lie & cheat far better then most of us.
            But why is flying essential for a vacation?
            All so I don.t think your last sentence makes any sense so please explain it to me.

          • Demers10…..all I hear from you guys is whining…..class envy….someone has a nickel more than you do. make the rich pay……NDP drivel etc etc.

            Do I care? No.

        • I believe EMILYONE is called a troll.
          No need to reply.

      • Gee Em, then shouldn’t the Prime Minister be doing his part? This gratituous vacationing where he and his family are the only occupants of jets….going to visit people who own private islands where they have destroyed the natural ecology, travel around in helicopters and float around in yachts. Is THAT role modelling good environmental stewardship? Or does Justin get a pass on being held responsible for his emissions? Maybe Justin is magical and his elaborate vacations don’t create emissions.

      • Gee Em, then shouldn’t the Prime Minister be doing his part? This gratituous vacationing where he and his family are the only occupants of jets….going to visit people who own private islands where they have destroyed the natural ecology, travel around in helicopters and float around in yachts. Is THAT role modelling good environmental stewardship? Or does Justin get a pass on being held responsible for his emissions? Maybe Justin is magical and his elaborate vacations don’t create emissions.

    • I look around us, and everything we enjoy benefits from the condensed energy of oil. It is amazing what it does for our lives, in food, transport, shelter, warmth… but it has a dear cost which just doesn’t hit us in the wallets. It hits us in contaminated water and unstable weather and a legacy our great grandchildren will have to deal with. So it is the planetary tax we are passing on to our grandchildren that has to be dealt with. And the carbon tax is the accounting that compels us to transition, evolve our practices, to better and sustainable sources of energy. Oil has been an amazing stepping stone. lets be leaders in approaching the future, instead of whining about it.

    • According to Science magazine, it is closer to 1.3 percent but why should that matter.

  6. When is PM Butts going to put a moratorium on Tankers on the Pristine St Lawrence River and when is he going to phase out Oil shipments from Saudi Arabia to Quebeece ??

    • Most people on here speak English…..please try to do the same.

      • What are you? The language Police?

        • If you want to be understood, speak properly.

          • Oh, I think his message got across loud and clear.

        • Only to you Gage…..but then you’re whacko anyway.

  7. Why must Justin conduct his cross-country tour wearing only a shirt with rolled-up sleeves and tie rather than a suit jacket as most other male Government Officials and politicians usually wear in public?
    What could young Justin and his savvy handlers have in mind by having him appear this way?
    Could this be a conscious attempt to substitute sexuality for substance?
    If so, why stop at removing his suit jacket; go all the way and remove the shirt and tie as well!
    As it presently stands, his appearance is visually akin to “coitus interruptus” which leaves the audience more than a little unsatisfied.
    C’mon, Justin, go all the way!

    • Eleanor!

      You shameless hussy!!

    • Spare us

      • LOL Newbie.

  8. When we bought our 100 year old home we did the things to it…not the things you see everyday. Things like super insulate, new windows, new furnace, foam your windows….our hydro hasn’t been over $100./mth since….this is one thing the feds could do.
    Ensure people don’t build to the minimum but the maximum. How about it in the next budget?

    • Either way: maximum or minimum, you’re going to pay through the nose.
      You may end up with a smaller fuel bill, Dianne, but how much did it cost you to get there?

      • It’s called ‘paying for itself’

      • We did a whole house renovation so insulating and putting in new windows was just common sense but I grew up in an old house built in 1918 that had no proper insulation and was heated with a coal furnace. It was in central Alberta and we froze in the winter. My dad wore two pairs of long underwear in the house. Would I ever take on a house like that? Never! We dressed in front of the hot air vents on winter mornings and often my mom would leave the oven door open in kitchen. I have nothing but compassion for people like that woman in Peterborough.

      • Our 5B2B house built in 1900 with a full basement and full attic took a lot of sweat equity…we both worked, but every time we got money ahead we would buy another window or add more insulation or purchase foam for the windows we intended to keep. If we didn’t get a dime of government money and we didn’t we would have done it any way.

    • I believe that budget is going to be taken up fulfilling promises made to First Nations’ education; veterans’ pensions; healthcare and a lot of infrastructure. Justin made over 200 promises that cost a lot of money in his election.
      We also did the things you did Dianne but if the temperature is -20 below Celsius for nearly a month, the bill does end up at $200.00 with the carbon tax. Funny, our daughter who pays no room and board got a rebate.

  9. For those of you who think that the Tar Sands are going to be shutting down by the Liberals anytime soon, you need to consider that if Kinder Morgan is going to be built, it will take years and then decades to recover the costs. The Liberals know that. The Tar Sands are going to be around for generations. The rest of the world will be using fossil fuels while Canada is converted to non fossil fuel energy and be way better off for it.

    • The age of oil is over.

      • Then why would Justin be building pipelines? He isn’t too swift is he?

        • Do you see a pipeline being built?

          Do you see pipelines being talked about?

  10. “”””“Why did you choose to run for Prime Minister?” she asked.
    Justin Trudeau smiled. “What was I thinking?””””

    No…..What were we thinking

    • Polls say he’d be re-elected in a flash.

      ‘We’ like him.

      • Yes and you like Ms. Wynne. All 16 percent of you. Shame, the auditor general has been so tough on her.

        • She can leave for a new leader… Dalton did.

          Same diff.