Trudeau ques­tioned on is­sues likely to plague him when Par­lia­ment re­sumes

Penticton Herald - - NEWS -

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — It was sup­posed to be a look-ahead ses­sion as Justin Trudeau and his in­ner cir­cle en­ter the sec­ond half of the Lib­eral gov­ern­ment’s man­date this fall.

In­stead, the prime min­is­ter was forced to look back on com­mu­ni­ca­tion mis­cues while play­ing de­fence Wed­nes­day on a range of is­sues as he wrapped up a two-day cab­i­net re­treat in St. John’s, N.L.

“I’ll stand right in front of Sea­mus,” Trudeau said with a smile as he and his min­is­ters gath­ered for a clos­ing news con­fer­ence at a down­town ho­tel.

His close friend and re­cently named vet­er­ans af­fairs min­is­ter, Sea­mus O’Regan, had been stopped ear­lier by re­porters ask­ing about the lat­est rev­e­la­tions on pub­lic costs linked to a trip to the Ba­hamas last Christ­mas.

O’Regan was among those who joined Trudeau and his fam­ily for a hol­i­day as guests of the Aga Khan, a wealthy phi­lan­thropist and hered­i­tary spir­i­tual leader to 15 mil­lion Is­maili Mus­lims around the globe. Trudeau has said the Aga Khan, whose foun­da­tion has re­ceived mil­lions of dol­lars in fed­eral funds for its in­ter­na­tional de­vel­op­ment work, is a fam­ily friend.

Trudeau said Wed­nes­day he’s co­op­er­at­ing fully with an on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the fed­eral ethics com­mis­sioner.

The trip came up Wed­nes­day af­ter CBC ob­tained doc­u­ments un­der the Ac­cess to In­for­ma­tion Act in­di­cat­ing the visit cost tax­pay­ers more than $215,000 for RCMP, Na­tional De­fence, Global Af­fairs Canada and Privy Coun­cil costs. The gov­ern­ment has pre­vi­ously said much of that tab was for se­cu­rity costs that would have been racked up no mat­ter where Trudeau va­ca­tioned.

“As is the case for any prime min­is­ter, the RCMP pro­vides a pro­tec­tive ser­vice for the prime min­is­ter and my fam­ily and does an ex­cel­lent job of that,” Trudeau told the news con­fer­ence.

“I’m not go­ing to ques­tion the job or the choices that the RCMP makes,” he added. “As for my fu­ture travel, I will keep you ap­prised as nec­es­sary.”

Trudeau was also pep­pered with queries on the gov­ern­ment’s vow to le­gal­ize recre­ational mar­i­juana by next sum­mer, de­spite warn­ings from po­lice forces and some prov­inces that there’s no way they’ll be ready.

He said it is vi­tal to change a sys­tem that gives un­der­age kids eas­ier ac­cess to pot than beer while en­rich­ing mob­sters and fu­elling crime.

“That’s not right,” he told the news con­fer­ence. “We need to make sure we’re pro­tect­ing our kids.”

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