Trudeau heads east on tour, talks Trump

Justin Trudeau heads to Halifax on his pan-Canadian tour and explains the common ground he and Trump share

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets people at Java Blend Coffee Roasters in Halifax on Monday, January 16, 2017. (Darren Calabrese/CP)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets people at Java Blend Coffee Roasters in Halifax on Monday, January 16, 2017. (Darren Calabrese/CP)

HALIFAX – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reminded a large town hall audience in Nova Scotia that he and U.S. president-elect Donald Trump rode to power through committing to help the middle class, though he conceded working with the new regime is going to present challenges.

Talking in the centre of a hockey rink before about 3,000 people in Halifax on Monday, Trudeau responded to a question from an audience member who asked whether he expects he’ll have to resist some of the Republican president’s policies.

Trudeau responded by saying both Canadian and American middle-class jobs depend on a good relationship between the prime minister and the U.S. president.

“As different on some levels as my approach is from the incoming president … we both got elected on a commitment to help the middle class and we’re going to be able to find common ground on doing the kinds of things that will help ordinary families right across the continent,” he said.

He also said it will remain important for him to remind the American administration that Canada will retain certain policies such as openness to refugees and a gender-balanced cabinet.

“We’re going to stay true to who we are. … Is it going to be a challenge? Sure,” he said.

MORE: How Trudeau’s cabinet stacks up against Trump’s team

The town hall began more than 40 minutes late to allow people time to be seated. Once it started, the tone was largely friendly until one woman asked about green energy.

“That oil has to stay in the ground,” said a woman who indentified herself as Mi’kmaq.

“Why do you guys constantly bring up all these oil pipelines?”

Trudeau told the woman that we are “going to have to agree to disagree on the issue.” As he tried to say that 39 indigenous communities in Western Canada are supportive of the Kinder Morgan pipeline, he was interrupted by the word “lies.”

Trudeau stopped in his tracks and asked for respect.

“A little respect please, I’m giving you as much respect as I can and I’m asking for the respect back,” Trudeau said as the audience applauded.

MORE: Trudeau’s tour gets real

The prime minister also stirred up some criticism on Twitter when he answered a man’s questions about the difficulties of being an immigrant.

“I’m a 10th or 11th generation Canadian on one of my sides, but my maternal grandfather was born in Scotland, so I do have some idea of the challenges it takes to come to Canada,” he said.

“I’ve always been first of all jealous of those Canadians who got to say ‘I chose Canada.’ Canada was chosen for me. And anyone who chooses to leave home, cross an ocean or two and start life in a brand new place … is exactly the kind of people we want to welcome into this country.”

Some Twitter commentators criticized Trudeau for claiming to know the immigrant experience based on his grandfather’s journey to the country at a young age.

Some members of the audience also expressed concerns about the basic problems in their day-to-day lives, such as the crumbling infrastructure in local hospitals.

“We hear you’re planning on spending on infrastructure, so I was wondering if you can help replace our aging hospital systems?” asked one man in the audience, referring to the Victoria General hospital in Halifax as being in “third-world condition.”

Trudeau responded by saying he’s going to work to improve relationships with provinces, but said the choices of what to spend money on in health will remain with the provinces.

“I don’t think it should be the federal government that decide what the local priorities are,” he said.

Retired Lt.-Gen. Romeo Dallaire, who has advocated for soldiers suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, also was in the audience and urged Trudeau to help veterans who are struggling with health problems.

Earlier Monday, the prime minister faced questions from a radio host on News 95.7 about whether his government could do more to assist with soldiers struggling with post traumatic stress disorders, in light of a tragedy in northern Nova Scotia that saw a retired corporal with PTSD shoot his wife, their 10-year-old daughter, his mother and then himself.

Neither National Defence or Veterans Affairs have committed to investigate the treatment Lionel Desmond received before and after his release from the military.

Trudeau didn’t address the possibility of an inquiry, but said he’s committed to supporting veterans.

He cited the party’s reopening of veterans’ service centres across the country and the federal offer to provinces to provide additional funding for mental health services.

“We know there’s more to do … and as this tragedy with Cpl. Desmond highlights, there is a need for much more work on PTSD,” he said.

“We need to do a better job supporting people struggling with mental health issues.”

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Trudeau heads east on tour, talks Trump

  1. As Trudeau continues his unplugged ‘up close and personal retail politics’ with Canadians, most of the Conservative Party of Canada are still trying to figure out how to speak french. I pity the poor interpreters of the french debate tonight, it’s going to be a very bumpy ride for them and chances are, most of the oxygen is going to be sucked out of the conservative debate and get burned up by the Trudeau Juggernaut. Michael Harris put a spell on Michael Chong’s candidacy this week, by writing a character profile on him, not good, because if a liberal writer, writes an article brandishing the skills and affable character of a conservative candidate, though i agree with his article, chances are it will be a ‘Scarlet Letter’ for Mr. Chong. Conservatives don’t like liberal writers telling them they need a moderate to run their party.

    • Wow. Great attempt to deflect but the topic of this article was Justin Trudeau’s meeting with Canadians in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia and what he hasn’t done for veterans suffering from PTSD. He made election promises to help them. He tabled a budget. They weren’t in the budget. He is still fighting some of them in court over disability benefits. Who gives a sh*t about the con party leadership when Trudeau is the current PM and will be the PM for over 2 more years? Even his own ex-senators (Dallaire) are attending these meetings and asking him to keep his promises to veterans. No one made him make the promises. If he had no intention of doing so, he should have been man enough not to lie and you should show some scruples and stop defending the indefensible. His failure to act to deal with those suffering from mental illness is costing lives and it is sickening. Your sucking up to him is revolting in spite of any moral lapse he might have is quite frankly revolting.

  2. The hockey rink was not in Halifax but in Dartmouth Nova Scotia .Dartmouth Nova Scotia .is NOT in Halifax Nova Scotia So when Justin Trudeau , the Mayor of the Halifax Regional Municipality and the local MPs all told those 3000 people that this event was in “Dartmouth Nova Scotia” WHY is a leading Canadian News Magazine reporting this being in Halifax ?

  3. Justin Trudeau was also at Two If By Sea in DARTMOUTH – not just the Java Blend in HALIFAX – and for the record … that “hockey rink” was The DARTMOUTH Sportsplex … it’s not “just” a hockey rink …