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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The smaller eagle on the left side of the picture has been stolen from the Sq’ewá:lxw First Nation. If found, contact the community office at 604-796-6129 or email info@skwahlook.com. (Contributed Photo/Sq’ewá:lxw First Nation)
Eagle carving stolen from Sq’ewá:lxw First Nation

If seen, contact the First Nation community office at 604-796-9129

The Fraser Valley Health Care Foundation held its inaugural Grand Gala in November 2019 at Harrison Hot Springs Resort. This year’s event will be held online. (Submitted photo)
Fraser Valley Health Care Foundation holds virtual Grand Gala

Second annual event takes place online on Nov. 20, raising funds for local hospitals

Chilliwack has several railway crossings that can be hazardous to inattentive and unprepared drivers during the fall and winter months. (Martin Duperre photo)
CN Rail urges Fraser Valley drivers to be careful around railway crossings

The danger level jumps up during icy, windy fall and winter months causing a spike in accidents

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Mt. Cheam closes for COVID-19 isolation measures, moving to online learning

School principal confirms coronavirus exposure led to staffing reduction and need to close

Carolyn and Steve Touhey came across a pod of humpback whales while on their boat Sunday, Oct. 25. Photo supplied
VIDEO: Boaters encounter pod of humpbacks in Georgia Strait

Pod spotted between Comox and Texada Island

It’s been eight years since Gordon Spencer (pictured), and cousin, ‘Lil’ Bruce Mayo, were gunned down in a home in Langley, and Spencer’s widow is hoping someone who knows something will step up (file)
Eight years on and still no answers in Langley double murder

Wife of victim makes public appeal for people with information to come forward

Langley resident Sean Nugent, who died in 2019 shortly he saved a swimmer from drowning, has been awarded a posthumous medal for bravery by the Royal Canadian Humane Association (Courtesy Nugent family)
Langley man who died after saving swimmer receives posthumous medal for bravery

Sean Nugent rescued woman from Hayward Lake near Mission in July of 2019

Washington State Department of Agriculture workers, wearing protective suits and working vacuumed a nest of Asian giant hornets from a tree Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. Scientists in Washington state discovered the first nest earlier in the week of so-called murder hornets in the United States and worked to wipe it out Saturday morning to protect native honeybees. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Nest of ‘murder hornets’ found near South Surrey

String of traps set up along border to capture Asian giant hornets

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau says pandemic ‘really sucks,’ and that Christmas gatherings are up in the air

The prime minister encouraged residents to continue to follow the advice of local health authorities

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The Williams Lake Indian Band is stipulating no-go zones for mushroom picking in areas burned by last summer’s wildfires. 100 Mile Free Press photo
Who controls mushroom harvesting on Indigenous lands?

‘We don’t necessarily know where the mushrooms grow, how old the stands need to be, those types of things.’

Canadian and American flags fly near the Ambassador Bridge at the Canada/USA border crossing in Windsor, Ont. on Saturday, March 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rob Gurdebeke
U.S. election results one factor that could impact immigration to Canada next year

The survey polled 1,523 Canadians between Oct. 23 and Oct. 25

Most Read