PM Trudeau delivers remarks at the end of the Parliamentary sitting in Ottawa
RIGHT HONOURABLE JUSTIN TRUDEAU (Prime Minister of Canada): Thank you Manon.
Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for being here.
As you know, the spring parliamentary session came to a close last week. Today, when many MPs are heading home, I’d like to take a brief look back at what we accomplished for Canadians during this period.
Last fall we were elected on a promise to do more to help middle class Canadians and those working hard to join their ranks. Looking back on the last seven months and especially the budget announced in March, it is clear that we kept this promise.
It’s a promise to people to begin, spend, and end each and every day thinking about how to help Canadians. I don’t want to overstate things. There is more work ahead of us than there is behind us, as I’ve said many times. But there are three big things that we have been able to follow through on--three very significant promises kept--and I want to touch on those three things today.
The first is the middle class tax cut. One month after taking office, we introduced legislation that would cut taxes for the middle-class and raise taxes on the wealthiest one per cent of Canadians.
This means that over the past six months, nearly nine million Canadians ended up with more money in their pockets. More money to pay their mortgage, start their own business and take that well-earned vacation they had put off for so long. More money to spend, invest and help grow the economy.
We kept a second promise by implementing the new Canada Child Benefit. We had promised Canadians a simpler benefit system than the one it is replacing. Thanks to the Canada Child Benefit, nine families in ten will receive a non-taxable monthly benefit cheque for a larger sum than before.
The Canada Child Benefit fulfills these promises.
Once the legislation implementing the Canada Child Benefit receives royal assent in the next few days, the benefit payments will start to arrive in family bank accounts just a few weeks from now.
And we’re already hearing from families about the ways they’ll put that money to good use: buying healthier groceries, using it to pay for kids’ summer programs, and helping to save for back-to-school clothes. For hundreds of thousands of Canadian kids, the Canada Child Benefit will also be a ladder out of poverty. It’s not only about giving families more support, it’s about creating more opportunities, and giving more Canadian children a real chance to succeed.
The third big promise we’ve kept is to strengthen the Canada Pension Plan.
We have heard Canadians. We have heard the stories of people who, after working hard their entire life, are wondering when they will be able to retire. Some don’t even know if they will be able to retire. That’s just wrong. Every Canadian deserves a secure and decent retirement after spending their life working hard. That is why we met with the provinces and territories earlier this week to hammer out a new agreement.
We know that right now, fewer than four in ten Canadian workers have access to a company pension plan. For people in their 40s and 50s, the idea that they might outlive their retirement savings is a real concern. For younger Canadians, the worry is more existential. They simply don’t believe that the CPP will be around when it’s their turn to receive support.
That’s why the agreement we reached with the provinces and territories is so important. It’s a big step towards ensuring the long-term strength of the Canada Pension Plan so that it can continue to provide adequate income security for generations to come.
Our government believes that the promise of a secure retirement is a promise we can keep. More than that, it’s a promise that we must keep. For every person who has worked hard their whole life, for our own parents, for young people just entering the workforce, for ourselves, and for our kids and grandkids.
Along with the middle-class tax cut and the Canada Child Benefit, this week’s CPP agreement represents real progress on our mandate. They show that our government is serious about delivering the kind of real change that Canadians want and need and voted for. We told Canadians that we would do all we can to strengthen and grow the middle class and to provide Canadians with a more secure retirement.
We spent the past seven months doing what we had said we’d do. But what matters most is that millions of Canadians are already benefiting from these kept promises. And we’re eager to do even more for Canadians in the months and years ahead.
Thanks again for being here. I’d be happy to take your questions now.
QUESTION: Yes, Prime Minister, I wanted to ask you particularly the last federal election you committed to both not buying the F-35 as well as to hold an open competition. Can you update us on both of those commitments?
RT HON JUSTIN TRUDEAU: Canadians expect our government to deliver the equipment that our Canadian Forces need to keep Canadians safe and indeed to protect us while fulfilling our international commitments, and to do so in the right process and at the right price.
As many of you know, the procurement process particularly for the jets had been significantly messy over the past years, and our ministers, Minister Sajjan and Minister Foote, are working extremely hard to ensure that we deliver to our Canadian Forces the jets they need in a responsible and in the right way.
QUESTION: So as a follow up, does that mean that there’s no commitment to a competition then?
RT HON JUSTIN TRUDEAU: There’s been an awful lot of speculation in the media, rumours going around about this or that. We are working very, very hard--and thoughtfully--to ensure that we deliver to our Forces the right jets, the right way, at the right price. That’s what Canadians expect of us and that’s what we’re going to be doing.
QUESTION: Mr. Trudeau, the federal government is preparing to block a number of major projects in the Montreal region to protect a threatened species of frog. Do you feel that’s justified?
RIGHT HONOURABLE JUSTIN TRUDEAU: Canadians expect us to do two things at once. They want us to create a more prosperous economy for all, and to protect the environment. That’s something that past governments didn’t always do at once, but it’s something Canadians expect us to do. And we’re going to do it. We’re going to protect the environment while at the same time creating economic growth, because that’s the only way to create a better future for Canadians. We’ll protect the environment and necessary ecosystems, and we’ll find ways to spur employment and create prosperity.
QUESTION: On another topic, what do you think of the attitude shown by Air Canada executives who told a Senate committee yesterday that, well, in fact, they threatened to cancel the deal with Bombardier and to create maintenance centres for these aircraft. Do you think that’s a proper way to go about things?
RIGHT HONOURABLE JUSTIN TRUDEAU: That’s a question for Air Canada. But we’ve always been very clear that we need to work together to ensure that we have an aeronautics industry in Canada, throughout Canada, that’s healthy in the immediate, medium and long term. These are good jobs. It’s a source of economic growth and innovation, and we’re committed to working very hard with multiple partners in the industry and across the country to ensure that quality jobs are created.
MODERATOR: Sun News.
QUESTION: Good afternoon, Prime Minister. I wonder if, just looking ahead to your NATO meeting, I wondered if you’d just talk about… well, I’m sure there’s going to be some discussion about Russia and President Putin. What’s your thoughts? Is Russia becoming more or less dangerous, more of a threat to European peace, world peace generally? What do you think about Vladimir Putin and what might you be telling our NATO partners about your assessment?
RT HON JUSTIN TRUDEAU: One of the commitments that we made was to Canadians over the course of the last election, and we have been delivering on it, is to re-engage Canada in the world in positive ways, whether it’s fixing the relationship with the United States, folding in a strong relationship with Mexico into a continental approach, re-engaging with the UN. And, yes indeed, cautiously re-engaging with people we disagree with. As I’ve said many times, as I reiterated just last week in talking to the Ukrainian Business Council as I was announcing our upcoming… my upcoming visit to Ukraine, we have real concerns about Russia and about its actions, and we will be thoughtful and firm, as I have always been, on how we re-engage with Russia.
QUESTION: I thought we might fine-tune things a bit. Brian Mulroney, of course, one of your predecessors on Monday night – and I’m quoting him now – he said: “what we cannot do is talk about Canada ‘being back’ in the world without making tangible commitments that will anchor our aspirations.” He was speaking specifically in context of NATO. I wonder, could you perhaps… to folks like former Prime Minister Mulroney and others, give some examples of what tangible commitments Canada might be expected to make to prove that we’re back?
RT HON JUSTIN TRUDEAU: Canada is a strong member of NATO, and I very much look forward to my visit in a few weeks when we will have more to say about how we will continue to live up to our responsibilities and, quite frankly, to the expectations that people have around Canada.
But whether it was strengthening our commitment to training as a part of the Coalition against ISIL, whether it’s committing to peacekeeping and to be part of the renewed peace operations that President Obama is encouraging at the United Nations, or in many other ways around development, financing, and action on climate change, Canada is very much engaged in a positive way with our allies around the world to ensure that we are having a positive impact, and that that positive impact continues to bring benefits in more security, more peace, and more economic opportunities for Canadians here at home.
QUESTION: Mr. Trudeau, it’s now been eight months since you’ve been in power. There are priorities you’ve put forward. You mentioned the CPP and things for the middle class. There are other matters that are more complex. What have these seven months taught you about the exercise of power?
RIGHT HONOURABLE JUSTIN TRUDEAU: That what matters is to deliver on our promises, which are key to the trust that Canadians have placed in us as a government. We spoke at length about growing the middle class during the election campaign, and with the three measures that we’ve implemented in recent months, those being to raise taxes on the middle class … sorry, to lower taxes on the middle class…
… while raising them on the top one percent. To give families a child benefit that will put more money in the pockets of nine out of ten Canadian families starting next month. And to enhance the Canada Pension Plan while ensuring its future. We’ve delivered on key economic issues for the country.
QUESTION: There’s one topic that’s received a LOT of ink in recent months, but we haven’t heard a word from you on it. You often say that this is 2016. You describe yourself as a feminist Prime Minister. Has the time come for the wife of Canada’s Prime Minister to play a more active role, a more official role along with the resources that go with this, rather than simply having a debate on the models from decades past?
RIGHT HONOURABLE JUSTIN TRUDEAU: Absolutely. I’m very proud of the work Sophie has done over the years for the cause of women, on children’s issues and addressing a host of concerns, and the work she’s done for charities across the country. And she continues to have a whole lot to offer, not just to the government but to Canadians. We’re working on making sure that she can keep doing the work she’s doing. But we also recognize that the person should be free to choose. We shouldn’t impose on future prime ministers and their spouses a duty to follow a particular model. I think that people recognize that different families will have different solutions and different abilities, and that they should be afforded some flexibility with respect to how they want to serve. I think it’s a good thing.
MODERATOR: Toronto Star.
QUESTION: (Inaudible). I guess I am… I guess we're going to soon hear from your government about the mandate for the missing and murdered aboriginal women inquiry. I'd like to know from you, what outcome do you want to see from that, what concrete outcome, and what for you success looks like?
RT HON JUSTIN TRUDEAU: I think there's a few pieces that need to come out of the national public inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. The first one is, we need to offer justice for the victims. For too long in this country, indigenous women and girls have gone missing without much notice, without much reaction, without society in general realizing the tragedies that are among us. And making sure that we are acknowledging this tragedy and responding to the lives lost and the families devastated, is going to be an important element of that inquiry.
Secondly, to offer families an opportunity to heal; to acknowledge and hear acknowledged their loss, and share their stories in a meaningful way that will help with the process of coming to grips with unspeakable tragedies.
And finally, I expect that this national public inquiry will clearly set a path forward to end this ongoing national tragedy; to look at ways to prevent this from continuing from happening again, ways that all levels of government and institutions and communities right across the country can work to ensure that we learn from this terrible tragedy that has gone on for over 30 years and that we ensure that it doesn't happen anymore.
QUESTION: We have seen… your government has recovered in the polls after your elbow incident with Madame Brosseau. We haven't heard you speak directly about that, but I'd like to understand what was going through your head at that time?
RT HON JUSTIN TRUDEAU: I think you've all heard me apologize and take responsibility for what was a mistake. And that's what people expect of each other. And it's what they should expect of their leaders; that when you make a mistake you own up to it, you recognize it, and you work very hard to learn from it and move forward, and make restitution, if necessary.
And I think we can certainly note that as the House rose last week, the tone was significantly more positive. We managed to work together on a number of issues, whether it's launching the electoral reform committee that's going to get to work throughout the summer, whether it was a level of collaboration within the House and even with the Senate on passing the Medical Assistance in Dying legislation, I think people have noticed that we are working very hard to continue to live up to the high expectations that Canadians have of this government, and of parliamentarians in general, and are not above, you know, acknowledging when we've made mistakes and working to fix them.
QUESTION: Yeah, sure, on the meeting with Mexico coming up, with the visa regulation, what do you hope that will open in terms of renewing relations with Mexico?
RT HON JUSTIN TRUDEAU: Exactly one year ago today, I gave a speech just before summer from the... my role as third party leader, on how it was essential to restore relations with our largest trading partner, the United States, and to fold in Mexico as part of the opportunities for growth and the opportunities for Canadians that we needed to have. Whether it was on climate change, whether it was on growth, clean growth, we needed to make sure that we were engaging in a constructive and productive way with our NAFTA partners. And that's exactly what I'm looking forward to with the upcoming state visit from Mexico, as we work to fix some of the challenges that have been going on for too long, like the visa issue. But also look at other issues that we can work together on, collaborate on, and create opportunities for both of our peoples. I look forward to having a lot more to say about the outcomes of next week’s meetings as we get closer and through them.
QUESTION: Just as a follow up, at the NATO Summit, or I should say your predecessor seemingly said to Vladimir Putin, I'll shake your hand, but only if you get out of Ukraine. If you have the time to meet Mr. Putin face to face, what will your first words be to him?
RT HON JUSTIN TRUDEAU: Actually, the first time I met Mr. Putin was at the G-20 seven months ago. And as many of you know, I had a fairly direct exchange with him where I pointed out that his actions in the Ukraine were illegitimate and irresponsible and we were expecting them to... to abide by the Minsk Agreements and move forward in a constructive way. And that's exactly where we continue to stand in our engagement with Russia.
QUESTION: Mr. Trudeau, I’d like to look back at the last seven months. What would you have liked to accomplish that you weren’t able to over these seven months, and what do you regret about this past session?
RIGHT HONOURABLE JUSTIN TRUDEAU: One of the things I had to remind my ministers about several times this session—because they arrived with tons of ability, motivation and enthusiasm—is that after all, we have a four-year mandate and we can’t accomplish or expect to accomplish everything in the first few months. We did accomplish three big things for Canadians. We lowered taxes on the middle class, created a new and more generous allowance for families and enhanced the Canada Pension Plan. That’s three big things we did. We did other things as well, and there’s a lot more to come. We’re going to continue working on various issues as we look ahead.
QUESTION: Regarding Bombardier, are you still negotiating or does it look like things won’t work out and that Bombardier doesn’t stand a chance?
RIGHT HONOURABLE JUSTIN TRUDEAU: We remain engaged with Bombardier. As I’ve said very often, I believe very deeply in the importance of the aeronautics industry in Canada—not just in Quebec, but across Canada—because it generates good jobs, and because it is a source of innovation and prosperity for our communities and our country. But it’s important that the choices we’re making are good not just for the short term but for the medium and long term future of this industry. And it’s against this backdrop that we remain engaged with Bombardier and with other aeronautics industry partners.
MODERATOR: (Inaudible). Reuters.
QUESTION: Prime Minister, thank you for doing this. A big development in Britain tomorrow. As far as you're aware, and your officials, have Canadian companies done enough to prepare for the risks of a possible Brexit?
RT HON JUSTIN TRUDEAU: I, like many folks I will be watching attentively the outcome of that referendum, but it is up to the people of Great Britain to decide on their future. I’ve made no bones about the fact that I always believe that we are stronger together, but I will allow ... allow the people of Great Britain to make their own determination tomorrow.
QUESTION: Secondly, on that point, what are your officials doing to prepare for Brexit and the possible damage it could do in the implementation of CETA, which, of course, is a big file for you?
RT HON JUSTIN TRUDEAU: We are, of course, working very, very hard on moving forward with CETA. It's a good deal for Europe, it's a good deal for Canada. It's something that we… a file on which we had to do significant work over the past months in order to continue to advance because there were real concerns and blockages amongst many partners. And, of course, Great Britain has always been a strong and positive voice around the European table in support of CETA. So we certainly hope that the outcome of tomorrow will continue to assure that CETA has as many strong voices in support of it as we move forward towards ... towards ratification and implementation of an important deal for Canadians, for jobs, and for our shared future.
MODERATOR: Canadian Press.
QUESTION: Good day, Mr. Trudeau. According to a communiqué sent last week by your International Trade Minister, despite 100 days of intense negotiations on the softwood lumber issue, there still isn’t an agreement. Can we expect an agreement following the meeting with Messrs. Pena Nieto and Obama?
RIGHT HONOURABLE JUSTIN TRUDEAU: As we all know full well, this is an extremely difficult issue that has long been a challenge for the Canadian government in terms of how we engage with the American government. Obviously, the fact that we now have very good relations with the US government is a big positive. But the fact remains that despite working very hard on this file, we don’t have a positive announcement to make at this time.
QUESTION: Switching topics completely, your government succeeded this week in passing Bill C-14 on physician-assisted dying. Some Senators grudgingly voted for the bill, stating that they felt they were abandoning patients who would like to receive this assistance despite not having a terminal condition. Challenges are already in the offing in Quebec. Is it reasonable and acceptable that legislation like this shuts out some of the people who are suffering so terribly?
RIGHT HONOURABLE JUSTIN TRUDEAU: Creating a framework for physician-assisted dying is a big step for Canada. And it was very important for us to take this step as thoughtfully and responsibly as possible. Canadians expect us to do two things. Defend their rights and freedoms, their freedom of choice, but also protect the most vulnerable. This is a balance we must always keep in our hearts and minds, because the lives of so many lie in the balance.
We will always, as individuals and as family members, face tough decisions in the years to come. And as far as I’m concerned, the important thing is to establish a framework that respects the wide range of viewpoints we’ve seen in Canada, but also to make headway on something that will, to be sure, raise questions on both sides. We will see how Canadians live and navigate this new framework in the months and years to come. Certainly there will be pressure, questions and more studies, but I think we can all be very satisfied with this first step, which was indeed taken in a respectful and responsible manner.
MODERATOR: I’m told we need to wrap up. Do you have time for one more question?
RIGHT HONOURABLE JUSTIN TRUDEAU: One last question, yes.
MODERATOR: Canadian Press.
QUESTION: Prime Minister, thanks for taking the question. You announced methane cuts with the United States when you visited in March. Of course, President Obama is leaving this year, and I'm just wondering how important it is to get Mexico to sign onto these methane emission cuts to kind of lock in that deal, and if there's anything else specific you're looking for from the Three Amigos?
RT HON JUSTIN TRUDEAU: Obviously climate change and clean growth initiatives are going to be at the heart of many of the discussions we'll be having… that we have been having with our continental partners, but the discussions we'll be having at the North American Leaders' Summit, it'll obviously include discussions around the historic methane agreements that we came to between Canada and the United States when I was down in Washington a number of months ago.
But these and other issues will be things that we are looking to align ourselves, the three partners in NAFTA, as closely as possible, to demonstrate that in North America we understand how creating growth that benefits our citizens and protecting the environment for future generations are not opposite goals, but are very much complementary in the 21st Century. And I look forward to strong and robust trilateral discussions on these issues next week.
QUESTION: As a follow up, you responded a little bit in French to this, but as the son of a prime minister you probably had fewer illusions about this job than some coming in, but I'm wondering what you learned in your first eight months? Were there any revelations?
RT HON JUSTIN TRUDEAU: You know, I've been focused since my very beginnings in Papineau on being a good MP, on listening to Canadians and serving the folks who've put me in this position to be able to deliver. And we've built a team of people very much focused on exactly that – on demonstrating that a thoughtful, responsible, value-driven group of people who come together to serve the country that they love so well in a positive and respectful way can very much achieve meaningful things for Canadians.
And on the three things that we were able to achieve of significant impact on the lives of Canadians: for lowering taxes for the middle class; to helping families with the cost of raising their kids with the new Canada Child Benefit; or securing pensions for the future, not just for people who are approaching retirement age now by lowering the age of retirement from 67 to 65, by increasing the GIS by 10% for the most vulnerable low-income seniors, but indeed by assuring, with the strengthened CPP, that people who are right now just entering the work force in their twenties and thirties can be confident that they will have a level of retirement security 40, 50 years from now, is exactly what governments can do when we listen to people, when we work hard every day to serve them, and when we always believe that better is possible.
Thank you very much, everyone.
MODERATOR: Thank you.