Prime Minister Justin Trudeau walks towards his cabinet to speak to reporters following a swearing in ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, on Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau walks towards his cabinet to speak to reporters following a swearing in ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, on Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Trudeau, ministers head to Winnipeg for cabinet retreat, western outreach

Beginning Sunday, the Prime Minister and his 36 ministers will be holed up in Winnipeg for three days

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is reviving his practice of holding periodic cabinet retreats outside the nation’s capital — an exercise in regional outreach that his office maintains is worth the added cost of ferrying ministers around the country.

Beginning Sunday, he and his 36 ministers will be holed up in Winnipeg for three days to discuss priorities and plot how to bring them to fruition in a House of Commons where the Liberals hold only a minority of seats.

That is to be followed by a three-day caucus retreat with Liberal MPs in Ottawa, in preparation for the resumption of Parliament on Jan. 27 — its first extended sitting since the Liberals were reduced to a minority in the October election.

The choice of Winnipeg is a nod to the East-West divide exposed in the election. The Liberals shut out entirely in Alberta and Saskatchewan, where voters were irate over environmental policies they believe have gutted the energy industry.

Manitoba, where the Liberals lost three of six seats, is somewhat friendlier territory. The province’s premier, Brian Pallister, has signalled a willingness to try to bridge the divide between the federal government and his fellow conservative Prairie premiers.

ALSO READ: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveils new Liberal cabinet

Trudeau is to meet separately with Pallister while he’s in town, as well as with Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman.

“Canadians sent us a clear message that they want a government that finds common ground and supports everyone is different regions,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement when asked why the retreat is being held outside Ottawa and in Winnipeg in particular.

“We are also committed to listening to and working closely with Canadians in the Prairies to address their specific concerns.”

During his first mandate, Trudeau held eight cabinet retreats outside Ottawa, including two in Alberta.

Conservative MP Candice Bergen, who represents a Manitoba riding, dismissed the Winnipeg retreat as a show of listening to westerners without actually changing any of the ”failed policies,” like the federal carbon tax, that Prairie voters rejected.

“If this is to be a sincere effort, the Trudeau Liberals should meet directly with Manitobans to understand how their policies are making life more difficult,” she said in a statement.

Among the issues ministers are expected to discuss during the Winnipeg retreat is what the government calls “the challenges of an uncertain world” — a timely topic as the country tries to come to grips with Iran’s admission that it accidentally shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet last week. The crash killed all 176 people on board, including 57 Canadian citizens and 29 permanent residents.

The retreat will focus primarily on more prosaic matters: the state of the economy, the upcoming budget and how to deliver on campaign promises to bolster the middle class, fight climate change, strengthen gun control and achieve reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.

And there’ll be a session on how to get it done in a minority Parliament.

On helping the middle class, ministers will get some expert advice from economists Armine Yalnizyan and Kevin Milligan and Canada’s chief statistician, Anil Arora.

On climate change, they’ll hear from economist Andrew Leach and climate scientist Katherine Hayhoe, the duo who last fall graded the major parties’ campaign plans to cut carbon emissions. (They gave the Liberals a B for ambition and an A for feasibility).

Of particular interest to the West, they’ll also get an update on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion from Bill Downe, the chair of Trans Mountain Corp. and former CEO of BMO Financial Group, and Linda Coady, a former Enbridge executive who heads a committee advising the government on consultations with Indigenous communities that want a financial stake in the project.

The Trudeau government bought the pipeline for $4.5 billion after Kinder Morgan decided to scrap plans to twin the pipeline due to political uncertainty and legal hurdles. The government cleared one of those hurdles Thursday when the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that British Columbia cannot regulate what flows through the pipeline, which is to carry diluted bitumen from Alberta’s oil sands to the B.C. coast for export overseas.

Starting Wednesday, Trudeau and his minister will hole up again for three days in Ottawa with Liberal MPs.

Caucus chair Francis Scarpaleggia noted in an interview that this will be the “first real working session” of caucus since the election.

Since most Liberal MPs have never experienced a minority Parliament before, he expects the retreat will focus heavily on the challenges that will bring, with insights shared from veterans like himself who’ve been there before.

Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Justin Trudeau

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

Just Posted

(Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Murder charge laid in February 2020 stabbing death of Smithers man

Michael Egenolf is charged with the second-degree murder of Brodie Cumiskey

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

The village is hoping for a start date in early April with completion as soon as possible. (Granisle Village website photo/Houston Today)
Granisle’s curling rink to receive a facelift

Receives a $362,148 provincial grant

A huge milestone for Granisle to reach 50 years, said Mayor. (Village of Granisle photo/Lakes District News)
Granisle’s 50 years anniversary celebration postponed

The celebrations are now set to be held in 2022

Topley is part of the 10 projects funded in the north. (Laura Blackwell photo/Houston Today)
Topley to receive economic funding

Part of province’s $20.7 million Climate Adaptation Program

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C. on the COVID-19 situation. (B.C. government)
Dr. Bonnie Henry predicts a ‘post-pandemic world’ for B.C. this summer

‘Extending this second dose provides very high real-world protection to more people, sooner’

Malawian police guard AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines after the shipment arrived in Lilongwe, Malawi, Friday March 5, 2021. Canada is expecting its first shipments of AstraZeneca vaccine next week. (Associated Press/Thoko Chikondi)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 cases climb to 634 Friday, four more deaths

Currently 255 people in hospital, 66 in intensive care

A crashed helicopter is seen near Mt. Gardner on Bowen Island on Friday March 5, 2021. Two people were taken to hospital in serious but stable condition after the crash. (Irene Paulus/contributed)
2 people in serious condition after helicopter goes down on Bowen Island

Unclear how many passengers aboard and unclear where the helicopter was going

Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. transgender inmate to get human rights hearing after being held in mostly male jail

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal member Amber Prince on March 3 dismissed the pretrial’s application to have Makayla Sandve’s complaint dismissed

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

The Netflix logo on an iPhone. B.C. delayed imposing sales tax on digital services and sweetened carbonated beverages as part of its response to COVID-19. Those taxes take effect April 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Matt Rourke
B.C. applies 7% sales tax on streaming, vaping, sweet drinks April 1

Measures from 2020 budget were delayed due to COVID-19

Chief Don Tom of the Tsartlip First Nation was outraged after Green MLA Adam Olsen revealed on social media that the community had been experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak – a fact the First Nation had chosen to keep private to avoid racist backlash as experienced by the Cowichan Tribes when an outbreak was declared there in January. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation ‘outraged’ after Green MLA reveals COVID-19 outbreak

Tsartlip First Nation chief shares concerns about racist backlash, MLA apologizes

A lawyer wears a face mask and gloves to curb the spread of COVID-19 while waiting to enter B.C. Supreme Court, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, Aug. 28, 2020. British Columbia’s highest court has sided with the land owner in a dispute over public access to public land. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. high court finds in favour of large landowner in fight over access to pair of lakes

The Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club launched legal action after the cattle company blocked road and trail access

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference in Ottawa Friday, March 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau holds firm on premiers’ health-care funding demands, COVID-19 aid comes first

Premiers argue that the current amount doesn’t keep pace with yearly cost increases of about five per cent

Most Read