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Justin Trudeau’s town halls – were they a good idea?

 

By Brittany Da Silva

 

On Thursday, February 1, 2018, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took part in a town hall meeting in Edmonton. This was just one stop among many, as the Prime Minister has made his way across Canada hosting public town halls from coast to coast. Having stopped in Nova Scotia and Ontario before arriving in Alberta, Trudeau hopes that these meetings will allow him to hear directly from the people of Canada, regarding what issues matter most as we begin 2018. Trudeau has stated that he likes to stay connected to those Canadians whom he’s supposed to serve.

 

With protesters and hecklers in attendance at every stop, many are left wondering if these town hall meetings were the best way for the Prime Minister to connect with the people of Canada. In Hamilton, Ontario, one citizen was angered by the federal government’s decision to grant a $10 million settlement with Omar Khadr, a former Guantanamo Bay detainee. In London, Ontario, two hecklers became so disruptive that they were eventually removed by police.

 

Among topics discussed in Edmonton, Trudeau fielded questions on veterans’ programs, the stalled oil pipeline project, and racism. When a veteran who lost his leg to an explosive device in Afghanistan asked about Trudeau’s promise to stop fighting veterans in court and improve veterans’ programs in Canada, the Prime Minister stated that some veterans’ groups are asking for more than the federal government is currently able to give. Despite backlash, Trudeau kept his composure and eventually calmed the crowd.

 

There was also a great divide between those who support the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion through British Columbia, and those who vehemently oppose the project. While some were worried about the loss of jobs suffered as a result of stalling the project, others protested with signs reading “No Jobs On A Dead Planet.” Trudeau explained that the Trans Mountain pipeline was necessary to get Canadian resources to new markets, but also recognized the need for a world-class plan to protect the oceans, as well as a climate change plan to reduce carbon emissions.

 

Wrapping up his town halls in British Columbia amidst a sea of raucous protesters, Trudeau proved that he could keep control of the crowd, despite being confronted by hostility. He was often seen patiently waiting and listening as hecklers shouted at him, before finally asking, “Are you done?” on a couple of occasions. He reiterated the importance of respecting everyone in the room. Even when members of his audience began to turn on protesters, he reminded everyone to be polite. His ability to remain calm and collected while speaking on current affairs with passionate audience members were on display at each of these events. In the end, many Canadians were able to voice their concerns and were heard by the Prime Minister. Only time will tell if these meetings were able to affect any real change in Ottawa.

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