Advertisement

Justin Trudeau talks Ford cuts, Venezuela election during town hall tour to Greater Toronto Area

Trudeau says China trying to interfere with Canada’s judiciary by asking for release of Huawei CFO
WATCH: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday that China has been trying to interfere with Canada's judiciary by repeatedly asking for the release of Meng Wanzhou, but said they have support of multiple countries and will continue to defend the rule of law and the rights of Canadians. He also said they are letting national security agencies tackle 5G, saying they cannot politicize it.

Justin Trudeau says he’s not just concerned about possible cuts Premier Doug Ford could make to Ontario’s education system as Canada’s prime minister — he’s also concerned as a father with children in the province’s schools.

Trudeau made the comments during a wide-ranging town hall meeting Thursday night at a Milton, Ont., high school. The prime minister said he was “deeply concerned” about comments Ford made Wednesday, refusing to rule out cuts to all-day kindergarten and potentially growing class sizes in the province.

READ MORE: Former Olympic kayaker Adam van Koeverden wins federal Liberal nomination in Milton

Trudeau told the crowd that cuts to education won’t help the economy grow or provide opportunity for Canadians. But the cuts would also hit home on a personal level, he added.

“I’m also a parent who has three kids in the Ontario public school system,” he said, adding the potential cuts “worry me as a parent who’s got his youngest kid in all-day kindergarten right now.”

Story continues below advertisement

Ford said Wednesday that he isn’t guaranteeing that full-day kindergarten will continue beyond the next school year.

WATCH: Protesters turn out for PM visit in Kamloops

Protesters turn out for PM visit in Kamloops
Protesters turn out for PM visit in Kamloops

The program was introduced by former Liberal premier Dalton McGuinty and was fully rolled out in 2014. It saves families thousands of dollars a year in child-care costs, but it costs the province $1.5-billion a year, at a time when the government is grappling with what it says is a $14.5 billion deficit.

Ford’s government is conducting education consultations, including about the possibility of removing class size caps for kindergarten and primary grades.

Trudeau urged people to send a message to the Ford government.

READ MORE: Justin Trudeau tells voters to be wary of fearmongering on immigration during election

Story continues below advertisement

“I’m hoping that Ontarians … will make very, very clear that it would be a very bad political choice to cut opportunities for students and to cut education budgets,” he said.

Trudeau took questions from a crowd in the high school’s gymnasium while others watched from an overflow room nearby. Trudeau’s office said approximately 1,300 people attended the 90-minute event, which was the latest in a series of question-and-answer sessions held across the country.

The prime minister faced queries on a variety of subjects, including his environmental policy, immigration and political unrest in Venezuela.

Trudeau was asked twice what the federal government is doing to protect the jobs of autoworkers in Oshawa after General Motors announced it was closing its assembly plant there at the end of the year.

Trudeau said the news came as a “shock and a disappointment,” and the federal government will continue to fight for the jobs.

“We are also working with the unions and other potential investors and automakers to look at what a future could be for that particular plant,” he said.

The Greater Toronto Area is expected to be a key battleground in the fall federal election. Earlier Thursday afternoon, Trudeau campaigned with the party’s Milton candidate, former Olympic kayaking gold medallist Adam van Koeverden.

Story continues below advertisement

The pair surprised commuters at a transit station in the suburb west of Toronto, posing for pictures and chatting with people as they got off a train.

Van Koeverden, a star candidate for the Liberals, will face Conservative deputy leader Lisa Raitt, the popular incumbent in the Milton riding.