Trudeaus dazzle crowd in Victoria, and PM delves into local issues

Update

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's visit to a park near Victoria didn't quite follow the script today as he accidentally fell into the water while trying to get into a kayak.

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A dampened Trudeau joked that he was, in his words, "happy the national media was there to capture that." Full story on the prime minister's activities Saturday [link]

Original story

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie Grégoire Trudeau lit up the stage and faces of federal Liberal Party supporters at a gathering Friday in Victoria.

Introduced by his wife as “your prime minister and my hubby,” Trudeau recalled one of their past visits to Victoria, when the couple paddled kayaks in the Inner Harbour and later got under each other’s skins.

“I think we had a fight that day,” said Trudeau, grinning. “I just never have liked the fact that she is faster in a kayak than me.”

Trudeau reached out to locals in the audience and touched on Victoria issues directly, including the recent opening of a supervised consumption site for drug users in downtown Victoria. He said it was part of his government’s effort to work with the province to improve the opioid crisis in which hundreds of people have died of illicit-drug overdoses.

“After listening to experts and considering the evidence, we announced the plan to allow a supervised consumption site in Victoria as the most compassionate way to help our most vulnerable citizens,” he said.

He also spoke of some of the things he considers his government’s successes over the past two years — a tax cut for the middle class and a richer Canada Child Benefit going to more families.

And he committed his government to seeking reconciliation with Canada’s Indigenous Peoples and to putting a price on carbon pollution to better protect the environment.

He did not mention U.S. President Donald Trump and the American move away from the Paris Accord on climate change, but Trudeau specifically committed Canada.

“We are standing by the climate change commitment we made in Paris,” he said. “We can’t walk away from the reality of climate change, and we won’t walk away from a global plan that has a realistic chance of fighting it.”

Trudeau congratulated Liberal Party workers for signing up 7,500 new members in B.C., but he said the work must continue.

It’s time for party members to start door-knocking, talking and, most of all, listening to people to prove the party’s readiness to govern respectfully.

“When you show up, knocking on someone’s door two years before an election, they will realize you are actually there to listen and engage, and not just beg for their vote next week.”

And he called again for a new commitment to respectful engagement and conversation.

“Everywhere you look, politicians are playing those easy cards of fear, division and anger,” Trudeau said.

“Those are the cards that might help get you elected, but they won’t help you govern,” he said. “It certainly won’t help you govern in a way that pulls people together and solves problems.”

rwatts@timescolonist.com

— With a file from The Canadian Press

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