Trump, Pallister and pipelines: A Manitoba Q&A with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in Winnipeg Tuesday, where he joined Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister and Mayor Brian Bowman at the newest Canada Goose facility in Winnipeg, which will lead to up to 700 jobs.
But before his arrival, he joined Lauren McNabb, Brett Megarry and Greg Mackling at 680 CJOB by phone to answer some Manitoba-focused questions.
Questions have been edited for brevity. Read the full transcript below, or take a listen for yourself:
Q: Does your relationship with Brian Pallister need patching up?
“I think there’s a lot of things we agree on and there’s a lot of focus we have on creating jobs and benefits for Manitobans, that’s why for example we’re so pleased to be at this Canada Goose announcement in Winnipeg North with up to 700 new jobs. But on the big issues, whether it’s carbon pricing or the regulation and legalization of cannabis, we’re moving forward together. There’s always going to be little differences of opinion and approach, but the fact that he’s taking, putting a price on carbon seriously, and moving forward as part of the Pan-Canadian Framework on Climate Change, at least in the first few years, and we’ll talk about how it continues later. And moving forward on the strict regulation of cannabis, to protect our kids and protect our communities, these are things that we are going to find things to agree about.”
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Q: Manitoba is defying your carbon pricing plan, keeping it at $25 a tonne and you have said that’s not enough. What will you do moving forward?
“Lauren, how about we cross that bridge when we come to it. Right now we’re pleased Manitoba has signed on to the carbon pricing framework. We know that putting a price on pollution matters to Canadians. Matters in terms of protecting future generations. Matters in terms of creating good jobs in the new economy and that’s the kinds of things that we agree on, as I’ve said, in the coming years we’ll keep talking about how they will keep pace with the rest of the country. But we’re pleased that Manitoba is part of this national approach to fight climate change.”
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Q: Trade deals and Donald Trump – Where do you draw the line?
“I’ve said we’re going to remain focused on negotiating in good faith, in positive ways around the table, there’s obviously a lot of things said from time to time. But we’re staying focused on the substance. We’ve made it very clear that we will only sign a deal that is good for Canada. We will not sign a bad deal for Canada. We’ve been very, very firm on the need for things like Chapter 19, the need to make sure there’s a third-party dispute resolution mechanism that makes sure that we’re protecting our cultural exemption and a various variety of other things that is making sure that we’re protecting our dairy farmers and supply management. So there’s a range of things that we’ve been firm on and will continue to be firm on. But there’s also things that we’re looking to be flexible because it’s time to update this deal after 25 years. And we’re just going to stay working constructively to get to that win-win-win that we know is there.”
Q: Will the Manitoba dairy and manufacturing industry get dragged down into a trade fight?
“Well, we know that if the President were to move forward with his punitive tariffs on cars that he’s threatened, it would be devastating, obviously, to the Canadian auto industry, but it would also be devastating to the American auto industry. It would cause a massive disruption and I think lots of layoffs in the United States. I think it’s something that we obviously have to be aware the President is contemplating. But we don’t negotiate, with differently because of pressure tactics like that. We remain focused on what’s in the interest of Canadians and what’s the interest of our workers and our country’s economy. And that’s what we’re going to stay focused on. So there’s a lot of back and forth at the table on different subjects, but ultimately, as I’ve been saying all along, if we sign the deal it’ll be because for Canada and Canadians and if we don’t sign the deal, it’s because no deal is actually better than a bad deal for Canada.”
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Q: There is concern in western Canada. B.C. and Alberta are at odds with you over pipelines, Saskatchewan refusing to sign onto the carbon plan, not too popular here either. Are you feeling a chill?
“No I’m not. I was just out in Alberta last week and people were obviously deeply disappointed with the court decision, as was I. But they also understand that you can’t get pipelines built by ignoring environmental concerns and by not engaging with Indigenous people. Quite frankly Stephen Harper tried that for 10 years and couldn’t get anything built, to get to new markets. And Canadians understand that we need, understand both sides of this, in that we absolutely need to get our oil resources to other markets than the United States, particularly now, we’re seeing the uncertainties there. How important it is to be able to get our oil to markets across the Pacific, which is why we need a pipeline.
“But they also know we have to be thoughtful about climate change and future generations, and that means doing this right. So we are going to continue to focus on doing it right, you know, the conservatives have been criticizing us because we’ve done too much on the environment and too much in consultation of partnership with Indigenous peoples, the courts came back, and said you know, you need to do a little bit more. We’re going to do that more and we’re going to demonstrate that you can get things built in Canada by doing things the right way. That’s the – understandably people are frustrated by further delays but we have to respect the courts and that’s what we’re going to do.”
WATCH: Justin Trudeau on pipelines
Q: It seems like a no-brainer that if we don’t get this pipeline built, more gas, more oil is going to be moved by train. How is it that you can’t sell this? How come we can’t make this happen? Pipelines are safer than trains to move oil.
“Well, I absolutely agree. I mean, I’m a Quebecer and I saw Lac-Megantic up close and just recently celebrated the fifth anniversary of that terrible tragedy. We know the pipelines are a safe way to do it and quite frankly, and when you look at public polling, even in British Columbia, people are positive and understanding that we need to grow the economy and protect the environment together. We need to get our resources to new markets. The challenge is we need to do it right. And when for 10 years we had a government that refused to do anything on the environment, do anything on reconciliation, you can understand that people want to make sure that it’s done the right way, and that’s what we’re focused on. I can understand the frustration and the lashing out. But we are going to get that pipeline built in the right way, because it’s in the national interest. And it’s not just about one pipeline, it’s about all our energy and infrastructure projects, having a clear process that gets the approval in a timely way, gives certainty for business and does it in partnership and consultation with Indigenous people, with local communities, and protects the environment at the same time.”
Q: Law enforcement agencies are worried they won’t be ready to enforce the new pot regulations. Will there be further guidelines and tools from Ottawa before pot is legalized next month?
“We have invested massively in strengthening police’s ability to detect drivers under the influence and we’re working with industry on a broad range, but you have to understand that this is currently happening. This is currently a challenge that people are facing on our roads and in our community, where we’re under a broken system, a system that doesn’t work, of prohibition that allows our kids easy access to it, that doesn’t properly empower our police. Bringing in a controlled and a regulated system is going to allow us to deal better with the problem -”
“There’s been lots of discussions and obviously, legalization is a process not just a single event. And we’re making sure that we’re giving the right tools to people. Police, we’ve been working for so long over the past three years, with provinces, to get to this point. We’re now moving forward.”
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