Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addresses his national caucus on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Sunday, January 20, 2019. (Fred Chartrand/The Canadian Press)

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

Trudeau said the Liberals will offer Canadians hope amid issue like climate change and global tensions

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.

READ MORE: No letup for Trudeau as difficult 2018 gives way to wild 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


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

“Bullet missed me by an inch”: Man recounts shooting at Kamloops hotel

Penticton man witnessed Summerland resident Rex Gill’s murder in Kamloops

Kelowna Rockets make stop at B.C. Parliament building

The hockey team snapped a picture while in Victoria Tuesday

Highway 97 north of Summerland could be open by end of week

Detour in place as crews continue to clear rock slide and stabilize area

Family Day celebrated at Kaloya Regional Park

Family Day activities were held around the Central Okanagan

Pee wee Rockets get win in first game of Quebec International tournament

Kelowna’s pee wees started the prestigious tournament off strong

Lynx slinks across Penticton street in broad daylight

A Facebook users captures a lynx on camera near Penticton

B.C. BUDGET: Surplus $374 million after bailouts of B.C. Hydro, ICBC

Growth projected stronger in 2020, Finance Minister Carole James says

B.C. man survives heart attack thanks to Facebook

A Princeton man suffered a heart attack while at an isolated property with no cell service

B.C. man sues Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party over trademark

Satinder Dhillon filed application for trademark same day Maxime Bernier announced the new party

New trial ordered over banning whales, dolphins at Vancouver aquarium

Park board’s appeal reverses previous decision that found it had no right to implement a ban

Make sure measles shots up to date, Public Health Agency says

Measles causes high fever, coughing, sneezing and a widespread painful rash

Minister says plans to fight poverty, climate change, focus of B.C. budget

The NDP said in its throne speech last week that affordability will be the hallmark of its initiatives

UPDATE: Missing snowshoer identified as 39-year-old Surrey man

Search suspend because of bad weather on Mount Seymour

Bomb threats, gunfire, kidnapping: Drug war rocks Kamloops

Kamloops RCMP battles a series of violent events

Most Read