Prime Minister Trudeau to kick off Liberals’ election campaign in Vancouver

Vancouver Courier

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PM Justin Trudeau. File photo by Dan Toulgoet/Vancouver Courier

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will kick off the federal Liberals’ re-election campaign in the NDP-held riding of Vancouver-Kingsway Wednesday as he and his party vie for a second term in Ottawa.

Trudeau will join first-time candidate Tamara Taggart at 6 p.m. at the Italian Culture Centre on Slocan Street. Taggart, a former television anchor, is seeking office in the riding currently held by the NDP’s Don Davies.

Trudeau’s visit to Vancouver marks the second consecutive time he has launched an election campaign in the city. In 2015, he kicked off his party’s successful run to topple the Conservatives at Vancouver’s Pride Parade.

“Launching the campaign [in 2015] in my second home of British Columbia felt right… and it feels right right now in 2019,” Trudeau told reporters Wednesday outside Rideau Hall in Ottawa prior to his trip to Vancouver.

“I can’t wait to get out to B.C. this afternoon, but I’m very much looking forward to getting right across the country in the coming weeks. There are a lot of Canadians to talk to about the important choice they’re facing — about whether we move forward, or we go back to the Harper years.”

Trudeau kicks off a campaign in Vancouver where there is strong pushback against his government’s decision to buy the Trans Mountain pipeline.

He also continues to face criticisms of his handling of the SNC-Lavalin scandal that led to high-profile Liberal MP Jody Wilson-Raybould quitting the party.

The former attorney general is running as an independent in the riding of Vancouver-Granville, which borders Vancouver-Kingsway. The riding was created in 2015.

Wilson-Raybould’s Liberal challenger is Taleeb Noormohamed, a one-time Vision Vancouver mayoral hopeful who pulled out of the party’s 2018 leadership race because of heart problems.

In August, federal ethics commissioner Mario Dion’s report concluded that Trudeau violated the Conflict of Interest Act by improperly pressuring Wilson-Raybould to prevent SNC-Lavalin from being prosecuted in a corruption and fraud case.

The scandal is expected to dominate a large part of the campaign, with reporters asking Wednesday about his role in the affair, which he has defended by citing the need not to lose Canadian jobs.

“My job as prime minister is to be there to stand up for and defend Canadians’ jobs,” he said. “I will always defend the public interest, I will always defend peoples’ jobs. I’ve been unequivocal about that from the very beginning, and that’s what I will continue to do.”

Trudeau was at Vancouver city hall Aug. 30 to meet with Mayor Kennedy Stewart, who has called for more funding for housing and transit improvements along the Broadway corridor.

Stewart has also challenged Trudeau to make changes to Canada’s drug laws that would allow a “safe supply” of opioids for chronic drug users to stem the unprecedented overdose death toll in the city and across B.C.

Meanwhile, Conservative leader Andrew Scheer was to kick off his party’s campaign in Quebec. Green Party leader Elizabeth May was to rally her party in Victoria while NDP leader Jagmeet Singh was scheduled to launch his party’s campaign in London, Ont.

Singh won a byelection in the riding of Burnaby-South after Stewart resigned in 2018 to run for mayor of Vancouver. Stewart has not said which party he will vote for in the Oct. 21 election.

The Liberals hold three of the six ridings in Vancouver — Hedy Fry in Vancouver-Centre, Joyce Murray in Vancouver-Quadra and Harjit Sajjan in Vancouver-South.

Along with Davies in Vancouver-Kingsway, the NDP holds Vancouver-East, where Jenny Kwan took over for longtime MP Libby Davies.

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