Prime Minister Justin Trudeau thrilled a largely supportive crowd at the BC Forest Discovery Centre in Duncan on Saturday afternoon.
Some protesters greeted his motorcade as Trudeau pulled up with his wife Sophie Grégoire Trudeau and their children, but inside the protest was drowned out by applause from the excited crowd that had congregated to meet the prime minister.
“I just wanted to say what a pleasure it is to be here today with all of you,” Trudeau said to the crowd. “Obviously the B.C. forest industry is a really important one, it leads to great jobs for all your families, and communities right across the Island and B.C. I know you’ve faced some challenging times in the past and there’s ongoing challenging times with out neighbours to the south, but I also want you to know that we have your back. We will continue to support workers in the forestry industry, we will continue to support workers right across this country. We have your back and I’m really excited to be here today.”
First Trudeau greeted some forestry workers and their families, then recieved a short tour of the FDC from longtime volunteer Roland Brown as he walked down to where a forestry obstacle course was set up for children (this is Kid’s Weekend at the Centre) where his son tried out the activity.
Trudeau shook hands and spoke with many of those who had gathered to get a glimpse of the prime minister, stopping to take numerous photos with members of the crowd.
He then took a few moments and answered a number of questions from the press about immigration, the Trans Mountain Pipeline, national security and North Korea and supply management and NAFTA talks.
“There are people out there who still think there is a choice to be made between what’s good for the environment and good for the economy. I don’t,” Trudeau said in response to a question about the protests he faced at the Forest Discovery Centre and elsewhere in B.C. over the buying of the Trans Mountain Pipeline. “The only way to build a strong economy moving forward is to protect the environment, and ensuring that we are protecting the environment for future generations is deep priority of mine.”
The national plan to fight climate change is all about that, he said, as is the oceans protection plan.
“It also includes getting our resources to markets other than the United States,” he said of building a strong economy. “Most Canadians know…that we need sustainable jobs into the future, we need to move towards a lower carbon economy, but we can’t get there quite yet, we can’t get there tomorrow.”
On supply management and NAFTA, Trudeau said it’s clear that the U.S. is targeting the sector, demanding elimination.
“I can tell you here today, as I have been saying for months if not years, we will protect supply management,” Trudeau said. “It’s a system that works for our farmers, it’s a system that works for our consumers. The challenges they’re facing in the United States are due to a massive oversupply of milk which is not a problem that we have in our supply managed sectors. We can’t pretend there a global free market in agriculture; the U.S. subsidizes to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars every year their milk farmers, we don’t subsidize our milk farmers in the supply management sector. We are able to have a system that works for our famers, for our consumers and protects the quality of Canadian supply managed products…I will continue to stand up for supply management at the NAFTA table and anywhere else I need to.”