Trudeau says he doesn’t know bill details but supports his justice minister

Trudeau thrown curveball at town hall meeting

SASKATOON — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has continued his town hall tour of Canada with a rather friendly and low-key public meeting in Saskatoon.

Trudeau was greeted with a standing ovation Wednesday night before taking questions that gave him an opportunity to explain his government’s position on a series of topics including the carbon tax and indigenous issues.

But Trudeau was thrown one curveball when a woman in the audience rose to ask him why his government declined to pass Wynn’s law, a bill named after David Wynn, an Alberta RCMP officer killed by a career criminal who was out on bail at the time.

The private member’s bill by Conservative Michael Cooper would require the Crown to disclose an accused’s criminal history at a bail hearing to give courts more information on which to base a decision.

The bill passed the Senate by a wide margin with the support of Liberal and Conservative senators, but was shut down by federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould.

Trudeau was forced to admit he wasn’t familiar with the bill.

“The fact is, you have me at a bit of a disadvantage,” he told the woman. “You obviously know a lot more details about this particular piece of legislation than I do.”

He said Wilson-Raybould has his confidence and is an “excellent” minister who understands how important it is to keep Canadians safe while upholding the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“Getting that balance is sometimes a challenge,” he told the crowd of about 750 people at the University of Saskatoon.

“We are constantly weighing the importance of protecting Canadians rights and keeping Canadians safe, particularly the men and women who service in emergency services as first responders and as police officers.”

Trudeau said he will take the woman’s question back to the minister of justice “and ask her to explain more clearly to you and to Canadians the rationale behind that decision.”

After the meeting, Chief Bobby Cameron of the Federation of Sovereign Indian Nations, said Trudeau’s visit and his meeting with voters was admirable, calling the prime minister a “genuine” man.

“It takes a lot of heart and a lot of courage to come and meet with our constituents in our homelands,” he said.

“Things are slow, we understand that, and we are frustrated, don’t get me wrong. They have a lot of catch-up to do and it’s not by his fault. It’s the previous government’s fault.”

 

Jennifer Graham, The Canadian Press