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

A police car at the scene of a child’s death Friday, April 9, at the Falcon Nest Motel in Duncan. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
RCMP investigating child’s death at Duncan’s Falcon Nest Motel

First responders attended to a call about an unresponsive child at the… Continue reading

Chemainus Art Group creates mural mosaic to celebrate a joyful spring. (Photo submitted)
Art group members celebrate a joyful spring in Chemainus

Each of 33 squares pushed together into one mural

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools’ district administration centre. (News Bulletin file)
Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district gets started on new budget amid unknowns

Ministry’s per-student funding increase doesn’t fully cover pay raises for teachers and support staff

A 3.0-magnitude earthquake occurred off Ucluelet just after 12:30 a.m. on April 10 and was reportedly felt as far south as Oregon. (Map via United States Geological Survey)
Quake off Ucluelet reportedly felt as far south as Oregon

Magnitude 1.5 earthquake also reported off Vancouver Island’s west coast hours earlier

Transfer Beach Dippers have been taking to the waters of Transfer Beach as safely as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Submitted photo)
‘Transfer Beach Dippers’ group finds community in the cold water

Dippers tend to dip at 6am, 8:45am, or 6pm at Transfer Beach

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

A youth was arrested following a car crash on Wallace Street on Saturday, April 10. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Onlookers laugh and jeer as B.C. teen beaten, then forced to strip and walk home

Police arrest older teen, call video shared on social media ‘disturbing’

A lady wears a sticker given out after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count slows after last week’s peak

3,219 new cases since Friday, 18 additional deaths

North Cowichan councillor Tek Manhas did not violate the municipality’s code of conduct by posting a sexist meme on Facebook, council concludes. (File photo)
B.C. municipality to take no action against councillor who posted sexist meme

Tek Manhas’s meme doesn’t violate North Cowichan council’s code of conduct, municipality concludes

A 41-person air task force, including 12 members from 407 Long Range Patrol Squadron at 19 Wing Comox, seized more than $3 million CND worth of cocaine as part of Op Caribbe. Photo by Canadian Armed Forces Operations/Facebook
Vancouver Island team helps make $368 million three-tonne cocaine seizure

12 members from 19 Wing Comox involved in Op Caribbe

Killer whales surface near Sebastion Beach in Lantzville on Sunday, April 11. (Photos courtesy Ella Smiley)
Chainsaw and friends near the beach thrill orca watchers in Lantzville

Jagged-finned orca named Chainsaw and 17 others spent hours off Sebastion Beach this weekend

Nootka Sound RCMP and DFO Conservation and Protection Officers seized this 30 foot vessel, fishing gear and equipment as well as Chinook salmon, salmon roe, rock fish and ling cod after an investigation on Sept. 11. A judge in Campbell River on February hit the owner and his accomplices with significant fines, a ban on holding fishing licences and loss of equpment, including the boat’s motor and trolling motor. RCMP photo
Washington State trio’s fisheries violations the worst veteran officer has seen in 20 years

Judge bans three men from fishing or holding a fishing licence anywhere in Canada

—Image: contributed
Indoor wine tastings still allowed in B.C., not considered a ‘social gathering’

“Tasting is really just part of the retail experience. The analogy I use is you wouldn’t buy a pair of pants without trying them on.”

A sign on a shop window indicates the store is closed in Ottawa, Monday March 23, 2020. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is raising its estimate for the number of businesses that are considering the possibility of closing permanently. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Small business struggling amid COVID-19 pandemic looks for aid in Liberals’ budget

President Dan Kelly said it is crucial to maintain programs to help businesses to the other side of the pandemic

Most Read