REGINA, SK: At the second of two town hall meetings held in Saskatchewan’s 2nd most populous city, Justin Trudeau took questions from members of the community
First I must credit where credit is due. It’s generous of Trudeau to conduct these town hall meetings in the first place. It’s a true public forum that tests the Prime Minister’s ability to respond to the voiced concerns of real people.
Though he hasn’t gotten much better at answering questions directly, as the responses do tend to be a bit wordy and long-winded, it’s admirable to see a sitting Prime Minister do live Q & A’s, knowing full well that responding to questions on the fly is no easy task.
Trudeau has definitely fallen victim to off-the-cuff remarks that at the moment may have seemed like a great idea, but in retrospect would not have been said. A great example of this is the people-kind comment Trudeau made at a town hall prior, where he implied that instead of “mankind,” people should use the word “people-kind,” as it’s more “inclusive.”
At this particular town hall, one man had the chutzpah to go up and press Trudeau on his mishandling of the Kinder-Morgan pipeline
Trudeau points to the man in the crowd, awaiting his question. “You, with the ‘I Love Pipelines’ t-shirt, thank you sir.”
The audience has a brief chuckle and gives a light applause, seemingly already in support of the sentiment.
“First of all, I want to congratulate you, you made it 45 minutes in your speech without blaming Harper. That was pretty good. I’d really like to start talking here about some of the pipe and steel tariffs going on, and also about the trans mountain pipeline.”
The man continues on. Proudly representing his province. He raises valid questions and concerns that the crowd around him seemingly agree with, based on their response. He continues…
“You come out here, fight for Canadians, and stand up for Canadians, on July 1st you put the counter tariff on the U.S., which was great. But for the life of me, what I can’t figure out is, why would you sign on to the USMCA, while the pipe and tariffs were still active? Why didn’t you walk away? When in that part of the negotiations did you decide that we here in Regina just weren’t good enough? You’re going to move on with this agreement without us and leave us behind?
On May 31, 2018, the United States announced tariffs on imports of certain steel and aluminum products from Canada at the rates of 25% and 10%, respectively.
In response, our government took into consideration feedback received from Canadians through over 1,000 submissions during public consultations, on July 1, 2018, they imposed countermeasures (surtaxes) against C$16.6 billion in imports of steel, aluminum, and other products from the U.S.
“Then to add insult on top of it, we have this transmission pipeline that was going to be funded 100% by private investors, without a single cent of public money.”
The man is referring to the infamous move by the Trudeau government to purchase the Kinder-Morgan pipeline for $4.5B. A move that shocked many, with few able to defend the purchase.
The crowd begins to applause in agreement. These types of decisions by the Trudeau government show to Canadians that Trudeau has little regard for how frivolously he spends our tax dollars
“Not even once when in your campaigning did you ever throw out the idea that… You talk here about investing in Canada, well, never in your platform did you say you were going to go out and buy a 4.5 billion dollar company. This whole pipeline was going to get put in the ground, without you spending a cent of all of our money. You pissed off the greens, you pissed off your base, you pissed off us that don’t like you, and the pipeline still isn’t in the ground.”
“You know, I just can’t figure out how you’re going to get the yes on this one. It’s gonna get hung up in the courts, people are going to challenge you because now you own the pipeline and now you get the say on how it’s going to go in, we have a national energy board that was put in place that put all these bonuses on these companies to meet the standards of what the people wanted and we still can’t get there.”
And along came the question that many in the area were surely thinking.
“You can legalize marijuana, but you can’t twin a pipeline?”
Canadians are tired of mismanagement from a government that more and more see as incompetent.
Here’s how the Prime Minister answers:
“Thank you sir for your hard work in the steel industry. I know how important it is, the work that you do, the work that folks do here in Saskatchewan and Alberta and right across the country; In our oil industry, in our steel industry, in making sure that we are getting our resources to markets and that we are crowing as an economy.
So I recognized the challenges that these steel and aluminum tariffs represent to our economy, to your work, and that is why we are taking these steel and aluminum tariffs extraordinarily seriously. It’s why we came in with countervailing tariffs, and thank you for your support of those, on American products which is creating pressure within the American system by governors of Kentucky amongst others, to put pressure on the president to actually move off of those steel and aluminum tariffs.
Your 1st question was indeed about the signing of the new NAFTA deal, and should we have not gone ahead with NAFTA because of the steel and aluminum tariffs… And that was certainly a question that we had to ask ourselves and that we reflected on because these tariffs are hurting our workers, are hurting our economy.
One of the things that we’ve done is make sure that we are supporting and putting measures in place to support companies like Evraz, but it’s not just Regina, it’s companies in Sault Ste. Marie, it’s companies in Hamilton, it’s aluminum companies in BC and in Quebec that are all being negatively impacted by these punitive American tariffs.
In every single conversation I’ve had with the president, I bring up the fact that these tariffs are not just hurting Canadian workers like yourself, and Canadian companies, they are also hurting American workers and American companies, and we’re seeing increasing stories on that.
So, we’re in a position where we have to reflect on, do we sign the new NAFTA with our largest and most important trading partner… And pledge to continue to look for moments to pressure the US to remove these steel and aluminum tariffs. Or do we walk away from a two billion dollar a day trading relationship that is hugely important for the Canadian economy?”
The rest of Trudeau’s answer can be found here: https://youtu.be/U14nrNIrgGk (start time 1:20:05)