CA TodayLatest News

Trudeau’s 2022 year-end interview: Full transcript – CTV News

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sat down with CTV National News Chief News Anchor and Senior Editor Omar Sachedina for a year-end interview to reflect on the political shifts experienced in 2022, and to contemplate the challenges ahead in 2023.

From the “Freedom Convoy” protests and invocation of the Emergencies Act, to the ongoing cost-of-living and inflation pressures, Trudeau discussed what steps he’s taken in the last year that he ardently stands by, as well as what concerns him about what may be ahead for Canada.

During the conversation—which took place in downtown Toronto’s Kensington Market— the prime minister shared how he plans to engage with premiers on health care, defended his faceoff with China’s president, and discussed what preoccupies him about the increasing vitriol directed his way.

Here is a full transcript of the interview, it has been edited for clarity.

COST OF LIVING AND NDP DEAL RED LINES

‘The first half of next year is likely to be tough’

trudeau freeland 1 6204377 1671652398991Prime Minster Justin Trudeau listens as deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland speaks with families at the Dennis Timbrell Community Centre in Toronto, Friday, Nov. 4, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Tijana Martin

Omar Sachedina: It’s great to see you again.

Justin Trudeau: It’s good to see you Omar.

Sachedina: I want to talk about the year that was, but I want to start now about where we’re going. A lot of economists are predicting that there will be a recession next year. The price of just about everything has shot up. You go to the grocery store, you’re paying more for things like lettuce and fruits, carrying costs on homes have also shot up. What is your government doing to protect Canadians against these economic headwinds next year?

Trudeau: “Well, I think first of all understanding we’re in a very difficult global context. The war in Ukraine that’s continuing, the continued disruptions around global supply chains, challenges China’s facing with it’s coming out of the zero-COVID policy has put a lot of pressure on a lot of different parts of the world, and Canada is no different.

We are a little bit better off than most countries around the world because we have slightly more robust supply chains around energy, around other things. But, we’re still dealing with global headwinds. And that’s why even though we have a very, very strong financial position overall, we’re not hesitating to support people through this.

And that’s with the investments we’ve been making on rental supports and dental supports, investments we’re doing on a GST return, continuing forward on our childcare reductions. Things that will help Canadians through at a very difficult time. Because we know this year was tough because of the global situation.

The first half of next year is likely to be tough as well. But, Canadians continue to be there for each other. We continue to support each other, we continue to be stepping up for our neighbours, our institutions are there. Yeah, it’s tough times right now. But, we’re well-positioned to be able to come out of this strongly the way we were able to come out of the pandemic strong.”

Sachedina: But there is no government that can that can keep spending at this level. There has been an unprecedented level of spending in the past couple of years through the pandemic. Billions in support. And there may be a position now next year where Canadians need even more supports. Specifically, will that happen? And how could it happen?

Trudeau: “Well first of all, the Canadians are right to be alert to whether the financial health of their country is good or not. And of course, governments will say ‘yes, it’s good.’ Opposition members will say ‘no, it’s terrible.’ That’s why it’s useful to look at what the international bond rating agencies say about the fiscal plan and fiscal support of a country.

Canada is the third largest AAA rating in the world. We have the best fiscal position of any of our G7 peers, most of our peer countries, a lower deficit than all of them. We’re in a very good position which allows us to both be there with generous targeted supports where necessary, but also continue to remain fiscally responsible. And that’s the path we’ve walked over the past few years.

A number of people said the kinds of COVID supports we put out were problematic for our going into debt. And certainly we did take on a lot of debt, but what we also saw was we had a faster economic recovery, and our fiscal position coming out of the pandemic is better than most other countries, even as we had a less bad pandemic because we were there for small businesses, for workers, for families.

The targeted, appropriate support to help people through tough times actually leaves an economy stronger when it’s done right, and that’s what we’ve been focused on.”

Sachedia: So what does that mean for next year then? Will there be that continued targeted spending on the heels of what has already been unprecedented spending?

Trudeau: “What we spent this fall in targeted supports on GST [rebates], on rental and dental [benefits] and other things was targeted, was responsible, and was calibrated to not contribute to the inflation crisis. Which it didn’t. That spending had a negligible if any impact on inflation.

We’re going to maintain our ability to do things and look at what we need to do. Depending on how hard the global challenges hit in Canada and who it hits, we will be able to be there with appropriate and targeted supports for the people who need it most, because that’s what Canadians expect.”

Sachedina: You’ve struck a deal with the NDP, a party that wants you to spend billions more on programs such as such as pharmacare. There are some economists who feel that, particularly as we’re facing these economic headwinds, that austerity may be the way to go. What’s your red line with the NDP? I mean, is there is there a point where you say no, this is too expensive? This is too much money. And are you willing to take a position on that red line even if it means triggering an election?

Trudeau: “Well first of all, you talk about austerity. Yes, it is unfortunate that a number of people including the Conservative party, still talk about austerity. That you can cut your way into better balance for people. They’re talking about going after seniors’ pensions, they’re talking about holding back on EI. These are things that we fundamentally disagree with.

We know that supporting people in the right way, matters. Now, there were a lot of concerns in our first budget, after signing that confidence-and-supply agreement with the NDP, that we were going to put forward an NDP massive spending-style budget. What our budget in 2022 actually put forward was an extremely responsible, balanced approach that had everyone reaffirming our AAA credit ratings, that Canada was on solid financial backing.”

Sachedina: So what’s your red line with the NDP?

Trudeau: “What is good for Canadians, or not… That’s our line with everyone. What makes sense, what doesn’t make sense.”

Sachedina: Is there something that they currently want that you will stop at, you’ll just say ‘no, we can’t do this because it costs too much’?

Trudeau: “You can look at any of the things that they’ve put forward and see well, we did that one, we agree with them on that. Other ones we’re not doing, well we won’t do the things that we don’t think are good for Canadians or good for our future.”

Sachedina: And what do you think that is?

Trudeau: “Give me a proposal that they’re talking about.”

Sachedina: Pharmacare.

Trudeau: “Pharmacare. We’ve been committed to reducing prescription drug prices for Canadians in real tangible ways. We’ve moved forward with a half a billion dollar… high cost drugs for rare diseases strategy that’s taking a huge amount of pressure off some of the provincial issues. We’re creating bulk purchasing power. We are creating a Canada drug agency to make sure that we’re getting efficiencies and lower prices. There’s a lot of things we’re doing as we keep moving towards lowering prescription drug prices for everyone.”

HEALTH CARE AND PREMIERS’ DEMANDS

‘You can’t fix something by just putting money into a broken system’

trudeau legault 1 6204384 1671652485862Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Quebec Premier Francois Legault chat prior to a meeting in Montreal, on Tuesday, December 20, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

Sachedina: The NDP leader has also said that he’s willing to abandon the deal with your government if there is no action on health care. Now we have seen a crisis in this country when it comes to hospitals, children’s hospitals, children are being airlifted hundreds of kilometres away for treatment. Canadians are having to wait hours for emergency care. And there is also a critical supply of medication which your government has corrected and alleviated. But the fact that we got to this level in the first place in this country has surprised a lot of people because this is of course, a G7 country where people have expectations for a certain level of care. A lot of people are saying this is a life-and-death issue, the crisis in hospitals, but it isn’t being treated like one.

Trudeau: “As we all learned during the pandemic, there are very different responsibilities when it comes to what a federal government can do and what a provincial government can do. Provincial governments are in charge of delivering health care. The federal government helps fund the provincial health care systems across the country to make sure that everyone gets the same high-quality free health care that they need. Right now, we’re seeing that our health-care systems are strained, if not broken right across the country in many, many ways.

But, as the head of the Canadian Medical Association said this past summer, you can’t fix something by just putting money into a broken system. So we have said, as we said during the pandemic, we’re going to be there to help fund improvements in the system. We’re going to be there to send billions more on top of the record amounts that we’ve sent to the provinces for health care. We’re going to send more, but we need to see real improvements. We need to see results and outcomes that means that kids aren’t waiting in hallways, or being airlifted across the province, that seniors aren’t continuing to face under-quality care.

We need to see transformations in our system. And yes, the last thing anyone wants to see is the federal government fighting with the provinces over ‘oh, it’s your fault, it’s your fault.’ Nobody wants to see that. They just want it fixed. But I also understand that if I don’t stand strong and say, ‘you have to fix your system, you can’t just put more money into it,’ Canada won’t see those changes happen at the provincial level.”

Sachedina: So what do you do in the interim? I mean, you said yourself, Canadians don’t really care about jurisdictional battles. They just want to be able to go see a doctor and get the care that they need. What is the interim solution? I mean, you haven’t even sat down to meet with the premiers, which is something that they all want. Will you be doing that in 2023? Will you be sitting down with them to hash out a deal?

Trudeau: “Okay, those are those are two questions. First of all, what is the interim solution? The solution that the federal government has is to send more money to the provinces, and that’s not the result that Canadians want. Canadians want more and better care, better health-care workers, more rapid recognition of credentials. These are things that Canadians need, and right now by saying provinces need to come to the table willing to make a deal, willing to say ‘yes, we’re going to be accountable for any more money that comes into it, to results for Canadians, is the kind of thing that’s going to solve this.

Because, as I’ve talked to nurses and doctors and frontline workers in our health-care system, they’ve all said: make sure the provinces are actually delivering better care in exchange for the money that the federal government continues to send them. And that’s what we’re going to do.

Secondly, on sitting down with the premiers, no prime minister in Canada’s history has sat down as often on health care with the premiers, as I have. We had a meeting on a health crisis every week for the first stretch of the pandemic.”

Sachedina: So why are they saying that you haven’t sat down with them?

Trudeau: “I continue to speak with them regularly on an individual basis. Our health ministers are meeting and working together. And I look forward to sitting down with them once there is the outlines of a deal. But right now, they still want all this money with no accountability and no clear results. I have to say, that’s not what Canadians need. We’re going to be sending more money, but we need to see real change, real results to support frontline health workers, to support Canadians.”

‘FREEDOM CONVOY’ AND COVID-19 MISINFORMATION

‘There was no suspension of fundamental rights and freedoms’

trudeau covid protest 1 6204388 1671652979867People hold a sign against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and vaccinations during a rally against COVID-19 restrictions on Parliament Hill, which began as a cross-country convoy protesting a federal vaccine mandate for truckers, in Ottawa, on Saturday, Jan. 29, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Sachedina: Let me shift gears, I want to move on to the pandemic protests that we saw earlier this year. We know that Justice Rouleau will be presenting the findings from Emergencies Act inquiry before the end of February. This was such a key moment for you, right? Anytime there’s a discussion about suspending civil liberties, it’s a big deal. And I’m just curious…

Trudeau: “Except the Emergencies Act didn’t suspend the civil liberties, right? The Emergencies Act was created after Canada brought in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and part of the Emergencies Act says ‘this doesn’t suspend or override any elements of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.’ So… I didn’t mean to interrupt you, but that’s something that people often go off on. There was no suspension of fundamental rights and freedoms with the bringing in of the Emergencies Act.”

Sachedina: But the last time there was such you know, a significant step was the War Measures Act during the October Crisis and I’m just curious to know if your father ever spoke to you about that time and how that may have factored into your decision to invoke the Emergencies Act this time?

Trudeau: “But see, the Emergencies Act is a very, very different tool. It was created actually to make sure that there were different tools other than the only tool that was available in 1970, which was the War Measures Act. And, the Emergencies Act was created, there’s a public welfare emergency, there’s a public order emergency, there’s different qualifications, different levels of it, and different rules and accountability around it.

So yes, it had never been used in the 30 years since it was created, but it had a level of responsiveness to be able to act in a situation where it was required, that is much more in keeping with our democratic norms and with our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. So for example, the requirements that you have a public inquiry on it, was really important.

I mean, the principles that I went into with it was, what is it that we can do that is the narrowest, the most targeted, for the shortest possible amount of time. I think it was a place for about nine days. It was just about clearing a situation, making sure the situations didn’t recur, and as soon as we were confirmed that police across the country had a handle on any future things, we were able to lift it.

So using a tool that was put into place for when there was an emergency that nobody else was able to deal with it with the tools they had, and using it responsibly and having a public inquiry afterwards, that’s the way our country is supposed to work. That’s where these tools are there to be used, if they need to, in a responsible and appropriate way.”

Sachedina: You had said at some point during those protests that the protesters were part of a fringe who believed in conspiracy theories and wear tinfoil hats. When you go back and reflect on those words specifically, do you feel that there’s a lesson in there for you? Do feel that you did everything you could to lower the temperature?

Trudeau: “I think in in all my communications, in the frustration that Canadians were feeling — not just around that but around the pandemic in general — It was a sense that Canadians really stepped up for each other. People went out and got vaccinated to a higher degree than just about any other country and because of that, we actually had a better and safer pandemic than most people.

Yes, we lost far too many people and it was heartbreaking. But, we did better than most of the other countries that we can compare to. The fact that there were some people out there who were actively spreading harmful disinformation and misinformation, harmful lies that made people scared that the vaccine was more dangerous than the virus. And family sitting around the bedside of a loved one who was dying from COVID saying: ‘oh my God, I wish you’d just taken the vaccine, I wish you hadn’t listened to all those YouTube channels.’

Like this is real. There were real tragedies and there were people trying to gin that up and to expand the divisions, and the fear, and sense of conspiracy that were out there. We had as a government always and will always be extremely patient with people who are hesitant about getting a vaccine, or whatever. And that’s why we put out in-language support for different multicultural communities, we did ad campaigns, we made sure that we had local validators.

We did everything to encourage people along, but those people who were actively putting people’s lives in danger by spreading falsehoods around science that will help and heal and save people, and save our economy, and save lives, and save our institutions. Those people — and there were a small minority within the larger anti- movements who were really vocal — I don’t, and I won’t apologize for calling out people who were harming their fellow Canadians.”

Sachedina: So the tinfoil hats comment, you don’t regret?

Trudeau: “When someone believes that your government is trying to inject a vaccine in you to control your mind and track you, and there’s a microchip in it, that’s almost the definition of a government conspiracy theory that you wear a tinfoil hat to protect your brain from brainwaves. It’s a frame that when people fall into conspiracy theories, we need to call them out on that.”

RUSSIA’S INVASION IN UKRAINE

‘There is a plan for peace… but it will be not on Russian terms’

trudeau anand 1 6204403 1671653084878Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Defence Anita Anand speak with Canadian troops deployed on Operation Reassurance as he visits the Adazi Military base in Adazi, Latvia, Tuesday, March 8, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Sachedina: In a couple of months, we’ll be approaching the one year anniversary of the war in Ukraine, the Russian invasion on Ukraine. Canadians continue to watch in horror what’s unfolding there. Despite the unified stand that NATO has taken and Vladimir Putin’s battlefield losses, the conflict continues. Why hasn’t NATO been able to stop this war? What will it take?

Trudeau: “First of all, NATO is not in this war. This is not a conflict with NATO. Ukraine is a friend, but they’re not a NATO country and that is an important distinction to understand that in Latvia, in other countries around Eastern Europe, NATO is strengthening its position.

Our support for Ukraine is based on first of all Canada’s deep friendship and long-time historical ties with Ukraine, our support for principles of territorial integrity and sovereignty, and the UN Charter that Russia violated with its continued invasion of Ukraine. You know, we will continue as friends and allies and supporters of Ukraine to be there with weapons, with equipment, with support, with the humanitarian aid, with financial support to keep the lights on in the government.

We will continue to stand with Ukraine as long as it takes, because Ukrainians are not just fighting for their democracy and their right to choose their future and their territorial integrity. They’re fighting for the principles that underpin all of our countries and that is why on top of all the other reasons, democracies around the world will continue to stand with Ukraine and continue to punish Russia with sanctions, with consequences on the global stage, and remain unflinching on that even as it is tough.

The energy crisis, the food crisis that has been unlocked by this in the global south, but also in our country, is difficult. For Ukrainians, Ukrainians are fighting for their lives and paying with their lives. Against that, the least we can do is continue to stand with them.”

Sachedina: There has been so much international pressure against Vladimir Putin, but he remains entrenched. What do you think it’ll take?

Trudeau: “I think we’re seeing from the Russian side, from the things that are trickling out despite all the misinformation and disinformation that Putin continues to feed Russian citizens, there is a fatigue around the war. There is real concern about the continued mobilization of people from the small villages across Russia. And there is tiring… they are tiring of it.

Ukraine stands strong and in my conversations including very recently with Volodymyr Zelenskyy, he’s pointed out there is a plan for peace. It is something we are all working for, but it will be not on Russian terms. It will be on Ukrainian terms, because Russia made the terrible miscalculation of thinking they could invade a peaceful neighbour and get away with it.

And it’s not just important for Ukraine, it’s important for the world that we stand up against it. And quite frankly, the way Canadians have responded and the unity around that. Purchasing half a billion dollars of sovereignty bonds… for Canadians to support Ukraine. But also, the way we’re stepping up around the world to support countries that are more vulnerable to Russia and Russian influence with food, with fuel, with other measures, is bringing the world together and Canada is playing an important role on that.”

PLANS TO WELCOME MORE IMMIGRANTS

‘I don’t have to spend my time justifying why immigration is good… because Canadians know’

trudeau afghanistan 1 6204409 1671653184864Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, centre, shakes hands with Ahmad Najib Wahidi, left, and his daughter, 14-month-old Harir Wahidi, right, and mother Marghana Elyaskhil, centre, as he meets with families who have resettled from Afghanistan at the Eastern Food Market in Hamilton, Ont., on Friday, May 6, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Sachedina: Canada has opened its doors to Ukrainians, there are about 130,000 who have arrived in this country. Your government has set a target of 500,000 permanent residents by 2025. The Ukrainians have come in under a temporary resident process. A special process. If those Ukrainians who are here under that temporary process, then choose to become permanent residents, what does that do to that 500,000 target? Is this in addition to that previously determined target?

Trudeau: “Certainly some of them will choose to stay, but I know from talking with many of them, most of them are looking forward to going home, rejoining their husbands and fathers and communities, and rebuilding Ukraine. Canada will absolutely be part of that. If people want to stay, we have, as you mentioned, increased our immigration targets significantly. So there will be room.”

Sachedina: Is that on top of the 500,000 if they stay?

Trudeau: “I don’t know that we’ve exactly determined that yet. We have the targets that we’ve put forward. We’ll see how many how many Ukrainians choose to stay in Canada. Like I said, a lot of them are looking forward to going back, maybe want to become dual citizens. We’re going to be there to support now and into the long reconstruction. But reconstructing Ukraine is going to require a lot of people to be there to rebuild it and we’ll be there to support.”

Sachedina: “Your government has also set a target of 40,000 Afghans in this country.

Trudeau: “At least 40,000, yes.”

Sachedina: About 26,000 have arrived so far. There is a perception that that Ukrainians are being welcomed to this country faster than Afghans are. And I say that with a caveat that they’re separate streams. But why is it taking so long? I mean, your government has said that it’s complicated, but we’ve spoken to many Afghans who say their biometrics are done, their applications are approved, but they still can’t get to Canada.

Trudeau: “From where?”

Sachedina: They’re in Islamabad.

Trudeau: “Okay.”

Sachedina: So why is that taking so long?

Trudeau: “Well, first of all as you say, there are many Afghans who fled to neighbouring countries who are looking to come on to Canada or other places. And Canada, as you pointed out, has stepped up to a greater degree than just about any other country in terms of welcoming Afghans to Canada who are fleeing the Taliban. There’s no question about that.

We’ve done as much as any other country and we’re going far beyond most countries, even on an absolute basis, not just a per-capita basis. We are also very concerned about getting people out of Afghanistan, though. People who are in Islamabad or in Qatar or wherever they are, are already out from under the clutches of the Taliban.

But, there are many people in Afghanistan still, in Kabul, in other places who desperately want to come to Canada, and we want to get them out as well. That is a much more difficult situation because getting them out from under a Taliban government that doesn’t want to give them travel documents, that doesn’t want to facilitate their departure, will require us to continue to work there.

But we’re not going to give up on those Afghans who weren’t able to escape Afghanistan, if we do have a duty of care, have a responsibility to and we have to many of them.”

Sachedina: And when that target of 500,000, when that announcement was made by your government, there were a lot of people still waiting for an announcement on housing, a national housing strategy. When people come into this country, they need some place to live and stay. Why weren’t those two announcements made together?

Trudeau: “First of all, we announced our national housing strategy back in 2017.”

Sachedina: “But when you have 500,000 immigrants coming into this country, what more supports will be given to increase supply or can you even do that?

Trudeau: “Well, one of the limits on increasing supply right now is a shortage of workers in construction, a shortage of workers in communities across the country, which can be solved by immigration. So it’s something we have to do responsibly and make sure they’re aligning.

But we know that immigration grows the economy, it grows communities, it creates opportunities, it creates jobs. I mean, this is one of the great blessings of serving Canada as leader, is that I don’t have to spend my time justifying why immigration is good for Canada because Canadians know that.

Unlike many of our fellow democracies, where there are real strong dynamics against immigration, we have the benefit of saying, yes, we’re going to manage it well, we’re going to bring people in, they’re going to continue to build our cities as they always have, and build better futures for themselves, their families, and all of us along the way.”

FACING CHINA, NEW INDO-PACIFIC STRATEGY

‘I spoke directly and frankly with the Chinese president’

trudeau xi 1 6204412 1671653243206Prime Minister Justin Trudeau talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping after taking part in the closing session at the G20 Leaders Summit in Bali, Indonesia on Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Sachedina: On Canada’s relationship with China, there was a situation on the sidelines of the G20 Summit, where there was an interaction between you and the Chinese president, which many people said sort of exposed a rift that the two countries had. How did the relationship get to such a low point?

Trudeau: “I don’t know. Obviously, there have been tensions over the past many years. Do we point to the Michaels’ first, and hostage diplomacy or coercive diplomacy as a part of the low point? Do we talk about many of the allegations of interference in so many different parts of our lives? Chinese-Canadian communities consistently facing tensions and stresses from the Chinese government?

There are long and many reasons why there is tension there. And as I always do — and as I always will — I spoke directly and frankly with the Chinese president to highlight Canadian values, Canadian interests, and to demonstrate that we’re looking to be constructive in areas like fighting climate change and even in trade. But we need to see respect for the rules-based order, respect for international law, and respect for Canadian values.”

Sachedina: I know your government unveiled the Indo-Pacific trade strategy. Does that mean you will be making a trip to China and to India in the New Year?

Trudeau: “Actually, the Indo-Pacific strategy is more than just a straight trade strategy. Yes, it has trade elements in it, in terms of diversifying our trade throughout the region. Much of Canada’s trade remains with China, but the opportunities in Vietnam, and the Philippines, and Indonesia, and Malaysia, and India itself are massive and significant, and we’re going to make sure we’re investing in those.

But it also features security participation, it involves investments in infrastructure, it involves better diplomatic ties, better, deeper political ties. These are the kinds of things throughout the region that will benefit Canadian jobs, Canadian growth.

One of the exciting things that I’ve talked about with a lot of leaders around the world, particularly in the Indo-Pacific, is interest in Canadian minerals that are produced cleaner and more responsibly than from other parts of the world.

There is an increasing desire by big companies and by consumers around the world to know where the ingredients in everything from their food, to their cars, are coming from. And Canada is positioned to be a reliable, clean, responsible supplier to Asia of raw materials, of manufactured goods. That is very exciting and this is a moment that is going to be good for Canada, but good for the world to see more Canada connected with the world.”

RECONCILIATION AND GUN BILL CONCERNS

‘We’re not going at the right to hunt in this country. We are going at some of the guns used’

trudeau james smith cree 1 6204414 1671653346348Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks at a meeting with Indigenous leaders at James Smith Cree Nation, Sask., Monday, Nov. 28, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Heywood Yu

Sachedina: I want to move on to your government’s commitment to reconciliation. There are about 300,000 children in this country who are still waiting for First Nations’ child welfare [compensation], your government’s proposed gun-ban Bill C-21, which has evolved into something far more expensive, has drawn criticism from the Assembly of First Nations who say it would unfairly impact hunters who live off the land. How do you respond to those people who say that, despite your government’s commitment to reconciliation, it’s missing the mark?

Trudeau: “We have moved forward in deeper and better partnerships with Indigenous peoples in a respect-based way, in investing billions in ending 137 long-term boil water advisories. There’s about 30 left, but each of them have a plan and a project manager and the funding to lift them, so we’re on the right track on that.

On the guns issue, it’s an important one. And it does mean, as we are doing, we need to consult more and work with Indigenous communities on it to make sure they understand we’re not going after any of their traditional rights to hunt. Because obviously hunting is a huge part of life for many, many Canadians, not just Indigenous, and we fully respect that and we’re going to protect that.

But, when we brought in our ban on assault-style weapons two years ago, we knew that manufacturers would keep updating their lists and try to get around the ban with new models. And we have to make sure that that ban continues into the future. Nobody wants assault-style weapons anywhere in this country.

You don’t use them for hunting, and you shouldn’t have them for any other reason. So we created a definition, and a list that goes with that definition, of the kinds of characteristics that means these are assault-style weapons that just won’t be allowed in Canada anymore.

Now, you can imagine that there are some weapons that are used for hunting that unfortunately fall on the wrong side of the line. Not many, but there are some that are slightly overpowered or have too-large a magazine capacity, or technical reasons like that, including some of the guns that are often used by Indigenous hunters.

So our focus now is on saying, okay, there are some guns, yes, that we’re going to have to take away from people who were using them to hunt. And say, but we’re going to also make sure that you’re able to buy other guns from a long list of guns that are accepted, that are fine for hunting, whether it’s rifles or shotguns. We’re not going at the right to hunt in this country, we are going at some of the guns used to do it, that are too dangerous in other contexts.”

Sachedina: On the issue of the compensation, I was speaking to an Indigenous advocate who was saying we have had to litigate our way to success. Why are there still 300,000 children and families still waiting for compensation. Why is that such a battle?

Trudeau: “Actually, we agreed with the parties, we agreed with the Indigenous organizations to compensate to the tune of $20 billion. Children who had been… People now who were mistreated as children in care. And we want to get that out as quickly as we possibly can to people. So we’ve actually, we took it out of the courts. We took it into negotiations, we found a number that works for everyone and we want to get that money out as quickly as we possibly can. And that’s what we’re doing.”

ETHICS BREACHES AND DEATH THREATS

‘I’m certainly someone that people can blame for a lot of things if they want’

trudeau ottawa 1 6204420 1671653540399Prime Minister Justin Trudeau makes his way to participates in a Q&A as part of the Canadian Climate Institute’s “2030 in Focus: Getting the Next Decade Right on Net-Zero” conference in Ottawa, on Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Sachedina: Prime minister, you’ve been in power now for seven years. You have violated ethics rules, so have members of your cabinet. And most recently, your international trade minister. Why do these ethical breaches keep happening? And why haven’t you been able to stop them?

Trudeau: “Well I think first of all, our government is focused on getting things done for Canadians, on delivering the kinds of results that Canadians elected us to do. Ambitious action on…”

Sachedina: You can do that without breaching ethics.

Trudeau: “When you do lots of things, every now and then people are going to make mistakes. And that is why it’s a good thing that we have a system that catches those mistakes, that calls them out that, you know, shares them with Canadians, that that we explain and Canadians get to decide whether it was an honest mistake or whether someone was trying to fill their pockets.

I mean, we have a system that has the kind of accountability, transparency, that works and that is clear to reassure Canadians that if someone is taking advantage of the system — either deliberately or by accident — they’ll get caught and called out on it. And that’s an example of the institutions working.

Now, from my perspective, it sucks. Because you don’t want people to be making mistakes. You want people to be able to focus on delivering good things for Canadians.”

Sachedina: But it’s happened with you, it’s happened with Mr. Morneau, it’s happened with Ms. Ng. You’ve been in power for seven years. What’s missing? Why does it keep happening?

Trudeau: “I think people are always going to be trying to do the right thing, but every now and then there will be mistakes. And what we will continue to do, is improve our systems, make sure people are being careful, and learning from those mistakes.”

Sachedina: Being a prime minister is a tough job. Nobody would dispute that. There has been a lot of vitriol and hate thrown your way this year. There have been people wearing T-shirts with your images, with nooses around images of your neck. Absolutely horrid stuff. And I’m just wondering how you’ve dealt with that this year? And how your family has dealt with that this year?

Trudeau: “You know what worries me about that is not that it’s aimed at me in particular, I don’t take it personally. What I see is there’s an awful lot of people who are hurting out there. A lot of people who are frustrated, who are angry, who are lashing out at whatever convenient target there is.

I’m certainly someone that people can blame for a lot of things if they want, and that’s what they do. What interests me more about this whole thing is what can we do to reassure those folks that their institutions are there for them.

That when we’re talking about fighting climate change, for example, we’re talking about getting better jobs for them into the future. And you know, I was just in Hamilton and making an announcement around the greening of Dofasco… moving away from coal-fired steelmaking to greener electric-arc steelmaking.

And it was great news for the company, but it was really great news for the workers. This is where you know, big guys and tough women who are focused… work a really tough job. And they were saying like this, this green transformation means…This woman said she was a third-generation Dofasco steelworker in Hamilton. There was now going to be a seventh and eighth generation, because we’re investing in it.

We’re doing things that, even though the world is an uncertain place and there’s so many changes going on around all of us that can be really destabilizing, that we actually have a plan to make sure that not just Canada benefits from the way the world is changing, but Canadians benefit, with good jobs, with opportunity.

Whether it’s the electric supply chain for zero emission vehicles, the battery supply chain, whether it’s transforming our mining industry towards more electric critical minerals, whether it’s investing in opportunities through child care and the Canada Child Benefit to make sure that every family can have both parents work if they want to, and you know, be able to participate in growing the economy.

These are the kinds of things that are designed to reassure people that there is a place for them in the future. That the future is uncertain, sure, but how we’re working together, leaning on each other, and solving these problems brings us together.

So yes, some people are mad and lashing out. For me, every time I hear someone say that, my reflection is okay, how can I reassure you that Canadians will continue to be there for you? That we’re going to build a better future.

I’m not going to tell you that Canada is broken because you’re facing a tough time. I’m going to tell you, you know what, we can improve this together. We can fix it together. Your government is going to be there, your fellow Canadians are going to be there. There’s reasons to be positive and optimistic about the country and about the future, because that’s who Canadians are.”

Sachedina: Prime minister, happy holidays to you and to your family. I really appreciate your time.

Trudeau: “Thank you, Omar.”