Keep focus on helping Canadians at home, Trudeau tells MPs at start of meeting

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OTTAWA — Justin Trudeau told his MPs to stay focused on helping Canadians at home in this coming election year, despite the anxiety created by global turbulence.

The prime minister referred to the China-U.S. trade war and the pending Brexit divorce of Britain and Europe, as well as the threat of climate change and the economic upheaval of lost jobs to Artificial Intelligence.

But Trudeau skirted mention of Canada’s personal list of international woes, including its plummeting relations with China after the RCMP arrested Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou on Dec. 1 at the behest of the United States.

Days later, China detained Michael Kovrig, a Canadian diplomat on leave, and Michael Spavor, an entrepreneur, on vague allegations of “engaging in activities that endanger the national security.” Last week, a third imprisoned Canadian, Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, received an upgraded sentence to a previous drug smuggling conviction from a Chinese court — death.

“People across the country — and really, around the world — are anxious about what they see happening on the news, and in their communities,” Trudeau said Sunday at the opening of a two-day caucus retreat for Liberal MPs on Parliament Hill.

“Climate change is an increasingly dire threat, with floods and fires destroying whole towns at a blistering pace. The world’s two largest economies are at odds, and our founding European nations are going through unprecedented political turmoil.”

Trudeau avoided mention of two other major international irritants.

There’s the uncertainty around some significant unfinished economic business with the Trump administration in Washington, D.C., that cuts to the core of Canada’s economic future. This includes ratifying a newly renegotiated North American free trade agreement, and getting rid of punishing U.S. sanctions on Canadian steel and aluminum.

Canada is also in the midst of a falling out with Saudi Arabia, which started in August when the country’s volatile Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was bent out of shape by a tweet from Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland calling for the release of political prisoners. Saudi Arabia expelled Canada’s ambassador, froze investment and recalled its foreign university students.

Earlier this month, Canada accepted 18-year-old Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun as a refugee from Saudi Arabia after she became an internet sensation in Thailand for fleeing what she alleged was an abusive family.

Those international headaches could make it more difficult for the Trudeau Liberals to keep the focus on domestic concerns as they navigate their way through an election year.

He used Sunday’s speech to sharpen what will be his core campaign message when Canadians are expected to go the polls in October in the next federal election.

Trudeau took several partisan shots at the Conservatives, saying they have no plan for tackling climate change and the economy while citing Liberal gains in lowering taxes and unemployment. The prime minister singled out the Canada Child Benefit.

Trudeau said the Liberals will offer Canadians hope, branding his opposition as a party of wedge politics rooted in the ideas of its former leader, Stephen Harper.

“Make no mistake: The Conservatives pretend to be ‘for the people,’ but that couldn’t be further from the truth. This is still very much the party of Stephen Harper,” Trudeau said.

“It’s all the same — wedge issues, cuts to services and the will to look backwards. They’ll never change.”

Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press

3 COMMENTS

  1. He has made us the laughing stock of the world, everyone hates us, i have never seen a PM cause so much stress and anxiety in canada ever,he is the one dividing this country,his way or you are rascist dont try to as him a taxpayer question or you are alt/right omg he is ruining this once great country,he is putting on so much debt we will never recover from, made life more difficult for middle class by having to pay for all his social programs ie. Child care benefit of $400 bucks a kid really! I got twenty bucks, his paying off media and now trying to hush internet sites that discredit him taking away any free speech we have left omg he has to go!!!!

  2. This guy is truly unbelievable and those of us that justin keeps fooling should, by now, be able to see through his masquerade and absolute deceit. This guy gave away, in his 1st 100 days in office, over $4 Billion of our taxpayer dollars, to special interest groups outside of our beloved Country. trudeau is completely and utterly all smoke & mirrors and yet, too many of those amongst us taxpayers keep believing in his rhetoric, his 2- faced monologue speeches that say nothing except repeating endlessly how bad the other party leaders are and how wonderful he and his libs are. What wynne did to this province, this self-serving arrogant pm is doing to this Country. ie. promised $10 Billion deficit; gave us $30 Billion deficit. Let’s hope enough of those amongst us see him for what he really is. Seriously folks………….

  3. That’s rich. Another crock coming from an ineffective globalist pseudo-absentee PM.
    Get off your high horse and look around – you’re failing and alienating ALL Canadians with the exception of the ones you’re attempting to buy.

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