Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets people outside Nanaimo’s Vancouver Island Conference Centre on Wednesday. NICHOLAS PESCOD/The News Bulletin

Cabinet meetings on Vancouver Island ‘going great,’ says PM Trudeau

Ministers talk NAFTA, pipelines and more in Nanaimo; meetings continuing Thursday

Federal ministers began their cabinet retreat meetings Wednesday at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre, where protesters, journalists and members of law enforcement gathered.

Trudeau left the conference centre before many of his ministers did yesterday. He was greeted by a small crowd of individuals, some of whom managed to grab selfies with him. Surrounded by security and walking quickly to his hotel, Trudeau briefly told the News Bulletin that he was pleased with how the retreat has been going.

“It’s going great,” Trudeau said while walking away.

RELATED: Premier and prime minister talk about competing priorities

Chrystia Freeland, minister of foreign affairs, told reporters before meetings began that she has been in close touch with officials from the United States and Mexico regarding North American Free Trade Agreement discussions and her ministry is concerned about what it’s hearing from both sides. She said one of “central” issues between the two countries is around the origins of vehicles, adding that once those issues have been resolved, Canada will re-engage.

“Canada is looking forward to joining the negotiation and a swift conclusion of the NAFTA negotiation,” she said.

Freeland said while NAFTA is a trilateral agreement there are bilateral issues that are being focused on right now. She said the origin of vehicles is an issue that concerns all three countries and that there have been some discussions with the United States on that matter.

“We reached, with the United States, high-level agreement on some philosphical principles,” she said. “Obviously rules of origin is an issue where detail matters and Canada will very much have a voice in the finalization in all of this.”

RELATED: Canada ‘very encouraged’ by progress on NAFTA talks

Shortly after the lunch hour, Pablo Rodriguez, who was recently appointed as minister of Canadian heritage and multiculturalism, briefly spoke to the News Bulletin about how the retreat was going.

“A month ago I wasn’t a minister and this is my first meeting and being with my colleagues is great. I’m learning, I’m listening and it’s a privilege to be here,” he said.

Rodriguez wouldn’t talk about what goes on behind close doors at the conference centre, but did describe the atmosphere.

“It is very well organized, very structured and very important conversations but of course they are internal conversations and we can’t share,” he said, adding that it is interesting to be with the other ministers.

VIDEO: Pipeline protesters rally outside Trudeau cabinet meeting in Nanaimo

Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP Sheila Malcomson along with the Alistair MacGregor, MP for Cowichan-Malahat-Langford, spoke to the media during a protest of the Trans Mountain pipeline outside of the conference centre.

Malcolmson said it is disappointing that a prime minister who has called for innovation and focusing on renewable technology would agree to purchase a “leaky” pipeline and broken promises.

“He got snowed on this and there are deeply disappointed people as is evidenced by protests,” she said.

MacGregor said Trudeau has “painted himself into a corner” when it comes to the pipeline.

“I really don’t think he’s left himself any options,” MacGregor said.

Amarjeet Sohi, minister of natural resources, spoke to reporters about the Trans Mountain pipeline. He said the federal government realizes that many people have serious issues with the project and respect their right to protest.

“I understand the concerns from Canadians and they are able to express those concerns in a peaceful way,” he said.

Although not specifically mentioning the pipeline or bitumen, Sohi said his government has been clear about the need for economic growth and that Canada needs to get its natural resources to global markets.

“We have resources … that have been developed very, very sustainably,” he said, adding that those resources must be shipped to markets worldwide in an effort to reduce dependency on one single market.

Sohi called Trans Mountain a “large infrastructure project” that requires a lot of planning and design work, which is already underway. He said delays in construction on the pipeline are costing the government billions of dollars in revenue.

“We are losing $15 billion of potential revenue that we can use as a foundation … for investments in green technology and protecting our environment. So we see this as a part of broader plan of creating jobs,” he said.

One way or another, the Trans Mountain pipeline will “move forward,” according to Sohi, who said the true cost of the project won’t be known until “all the contracts” have been signed.

Freeland along with many other ministers left immediately following the meetings and did not take any questions from the media.

The final day wraps up this afternoon, when Trudeau is expected to hold a press conference.



nicholas.pescod@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Rupert rugby player shines for Barbarians

Hannah Scherr started playing rugby in the youth program in Prince Rupert

Northern First Nations partnership reshaping government’s approach to reconciliation

Kaska, Tahltan and Tlingit First Nations share Premier’s Award for Innovation with ministry

Prince Rupert Rampage to start a brief road trip

The Prince Rupert Rampage head out east on a road trip to Williams Lake and Quesnel.

Shames Mountain keeps bunny hill free

Co-op wants to make the sport more accessible for beginners

Ottawa apologizes to Japanese family in B.C. after chopping historic cherry trees

Plaque installed in Prince Rupert to honour the memory of Shotaro Shimizu

This Week – Episode 111

Selena Horne, Charles Hays high school musical star, co-hosts the Northern View’s weekly show

Delivering the paper as a family

The Northern View is looking for newspaper carriers in Prince Rupert, join our team today

BC Minister of Agriculture loses stepson to accidental overdose

Lana Popham announces death of her 23-year-old stepson, Dan Sealey

Canadian military’s template for perfect recruits outdated: Vance

Gen. Jonathan Vance, the chief of defence staff says that the military has to change because the very nature of warfare is changing, particularly when it comes to cyber-warfare

‘Toxic’ chosen as the Word of the Year by Oxford Dictionaries

Other top contenders for 2018 include ‘gaslighting’ and ‘techlash’

RCMP bust illegal B.C. cannabis lab

Marijuana may be legal but altering it using chemicals violates the Cannabis Act

Canada defeats Germany 29-10 in repechage, moves step closer to Rugby World Cup

Hong Kong needs a bonus-point win over Canada — scoring four or more tries — while denying the Canadians a bonus point

Avalanche Canada in desperate need of funding

The organization provides avalanche forecasting for an area larger than the United Kingdom

Quesnel fed up with detour, urges Ottawa to speed up road repair

West Fraser Road has been on detour since spring 2018, with no plans to repair washout until 2020

Most Read