Sep 16, 2020
Justin Trudeau September 16 Press Conference Transcript on the Election, COVID-19 Funding
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau held a press conference on September 16 on the throne speech, coronavirus related spending, election speculation, and more as the cabinet retreat wraps up. Read the full transcript of his speech here.
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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (00:00)
Good morning, everyone. Thank you for being here today. We just wrapped up a Cabinet retreat here in Ottawa to map out our plan, to keep Canadians safe and healthy while building a more resilient Canada. Canada and the world continues to face the ongoing threat of the global pandemic. Over the last few months, we’ve learned that we can never let our guard down. The fight against COVID-19 is far from over, so we must stay focused on the task ahead. We need to rebuild our economy while keeping Canadians safe. These two goals are not mutually exclusive, they go together. Healthier Canadians will mean, and have already meant, a healthier and stronger economy. And on that front, today, we took yet another step forward.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (00:53)
Through the Safe Restart Agreement reached earlier this summer, we announced federal funding to help provinces and territories safely restart the economy. Provinces and territories were asked to outline in a letter just how these funds would be best allocated within their jurisdictions based on their priorities. The premiers have now submitted those letters, which will allow over $19 billion in federal funding to flow towards our shared work to protect Canadians as we safely restart the economy. Kids are now going back to school, and as a dad, I get how parents are worried. Last month, we announced the Safe Return To Class Fund to help protect kids and staff with an extra $2 billion for the province. Keeping our kids safe must always be our top priority. [foreign language 00:01:52]. On Monday, the COVID-19 immunity and vaccine task forces provided cabinet with an update on their important work. Dr. Tam also shared her thoughts on where we are in the fight against this virus and what we need to work on in the coming months. We also heard from Charlene Stewart, the president of the SEIU Healthcare Union, who spoke about the challenges ahead this fall and winter for longterm care, with a particular focus on how we must support those extraordinary workers who keep our elders safe and healthy. [foreign language 00:04:23]. Last weekend, a number of countries in Europe and around the world reported record daily increases of new cases. We’re not immune to those trends. Here in Canada, we’re seeing cases rise in many parts of the country too. As everybody knows by now, each new case has the potential to multiply and create even more cases. So we’re not out of the woods. This is why I’m asking Canadians to continue to be very careful and follow public health recommendations. Limit the in-person close contacts that you have, take appropriate precautions to reduce the risk of exposure, and keep yourself and your family safe, and make sure you download the COVID alert app. These efforts help protect our grandparents, our parents, our frontline workers, and vulnerable people in our communities. We have to show solidarity to keep each other safe. We’ve come too far to give up now. Together, Canadians must stay strong and vigilant.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (05:55)
This afternoon, I also want to talk jobs. Lots of people are back at work, and that’s good news, but I know that there are lots more people who are still struggling, and there are many others who are worried that they could lose their jobs in these uncertain times. If that’s you, know that your government will continue to be here to support you. This pandemic has highlighted many of the inequalities that still exist in our society. More than ever, we need an economy that benefits all Canadians. During this retreat, and over the weeks and months to come, that’s exactly what our government will stay focused on. [foreign language 00:06:36].
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (07:38)
Aluminum trade between Canada and the United States has long been good for people on both sides of the border. It support jobs and it grows our economies. Yesterday’s decision by the U.S. administration to remove unjustified tariffs on Canadian Aluminum was the right thing to do. I want to thank Minister Freeland, Minister Ng, and Ambassador Hillman for their hard work on this important issue. Our government will always stand up for Canadian workers.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (08:11)
Yesterday, I also had a call with chancellor Merkel of Germany. We talked about the global response to COVID-19 from vaccine plans to our experiences with back to school. We also discussed smart ways to grow our economies going forward in what has become a more unstable world. And we both reiterated our condemnation of the poisoning of Russian opposition figure Aleksei Navalny. On the world stage Canada will continue to work with our G7 allies and other international partners to come up with bold solutions to the challenges we face. And here at home, we will continue to work closely with provinces, territories, municipalities, indigenous peoples, and businesses to drive the most important economic recovery of our generation. Canadians.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (09:03)
Economic recovery of our generation. Canadians deserve an ambitious plan for a healthier and safer Canada, a Canada that’s fair and inclusive, a Canada that’s clean and competitive. And with the speech from the throne on September 23rd, that’s exactly what our government is ready to do. Once again, I want to thank you all for joining us today. I’m happy to take your questions now.
Speaker 1: (09:28)
Thank you, Prime Minister. [foreign language 00:00:30].
Speaker 2: (10:43)
[foreign language 00:00:40].
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (10:46)
[foreign language 00:00:59].
Speaker 1: (10:49)
Abigail Bimman: (10:50)
Abigail Bimman, Global News. Prime Minister, on September 2nd, you told Global News that the throne speech would unveil an ambitious green agenda. I’m wondering if anything has changed since then and if so, why?
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (11:01)
I think we recognize and have always recognized that dealing with the pandemic is job one. But at the same time, as we’ve been struggling with this pandemic, we’ve also seen laid visible, many different weaknesses within Canadian society. Gaps in our social safety net, people who are falling through the cracks. And I think we definitely need to work together to ensure that we are there for one another. Because not only does it help us get through this pandemic in better situations, but it’s who Canadians are, in being there for each other.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (11:35)
And as we reflect on how to restart the economy, how to create good jobs for now and into the future, obviously the green sector and newer jobs and innovation and clean tech are going to be an essential part of building back better and building a stronger future. And these are all things we’re going to be addressing with the level of ambition that Canadians expect. At the same time, we have to remember, we are not out of this pandemic yet. And the actions we take every single day, not just as a government, but as individual Canadians, matters in how we keep each other safe and how we’re able to get our economy going again.
Speaker 3: (12:13)
Prime Minister, you keep talking about ambition, but then we’ve also seen a succession of ministers talk about prudence and everything over the last couple of days over and over. And you’re mentioning that as well. But I think Canadians would like to know how much of the agenda and bold ideas that you were elected on will be reflected in the throne speech and how that fits in, in terms of ambition. And also what provinces are expecting as well, and how that factors into what they are demanding.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (12:44)
I can understand how impatient Canadians are to hear the throne speech next week. It is going to be an important moment for setting a course for our country that is going to focus on keeping ourselves safe, but also getting through this challenge even better than before. There will be many different elements in it, in terms of how we make sure that we’re closing some of those gaps in our social safety net and supporting vulnerable Canadians, which we’ve seen all too clearly through this pandemic. But there’s also significant issues about what kind of country we’re going to build into the coming years and decades. These are all reflections we’re going to have. And as was pointed out, the throne speech that was given 10 months ago or so did not speak about the pandemic, did not recognize the reality we’re in, which is why we have an opportunity now to set out a strong direction for the government that will, of course, need to be supported, and need to get the approval of Parliament in order to be able to move forward. That’s what we’re looking forward to. And that’s what we’re going to keep doing.
Speaker 4: (13:49)
[foreign language 00:04:49].
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (13:50)
Okay. [foreign language 00:13:55].
Speaker 4: (13:50)
[foreign language 00:14:48].
Speaker 5: (13:50)
[foreign language 00:14:54].
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (16:05)
[foreign language 00: 06:11].
Glen McGregor: (16:08)
Hi. Glen McGregor, CTV news. Prime Minister, next week when you deliver your throne speech, if the opposition doesn’t have confidence in you, they have an obligation to vote accordingly and try and bring down the government. I’m wondering, under the circumstances, do you think it would be reckless or irresponsible for them to do that and trigger a federal election at this point? And also, do you have an obligation, yourself, given this unusual circumstance, to consult more than you normally would with the opposition to ensure that they are on side with what you deliver in the throne speech?
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (16:35)
First of all, we have been consulting with opposition parties since the very beginning of this pandemic. Canadians expect us to work together, and we’ve demonstrated, whether it was with the CERB, or the wage subsidy or the measures we brought forward for elders, for young people, for a range of businesses. We have worked with opposition parties, and Canadians expect us to continue to. That’s why we’ve engaged with them so far. We’ve been listening carefully to the things that they’ve been sharing with Canadians as their priorities. And I look forward to sitting down with all of them, mostly virtually, to hear from them directly on their concerns and preoccupations for the months ahead.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (17:17)
In regards to an election, we’re in a democracy that has thrived for many, many decades through strong systems, strong institutions that have adapted to local circumstances. We just saw the completion of an electoral process in New Brunswick that went off well. We want to see our democracy continue to thrive, not in spite of difficult circumstances, but also because of difficult circumstances. I know that Canadians want their politicians to be focused on them and their wellbeing. And I know that all opposition parties want to do a good job of representing Canadians in their views and their concerns. And they…
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (18:03)
… Wanting to do a good job of representing Canadians in their views and their concerns. And they will look at the throne speech with that in mind. I think it’s a little irresponsible be taught to be talking about recklessness when it comes to elections. I think I should, and we all should, have tremendous confidence in elections Canada to be able to bring forward strong measures to keep us safe and allow for the expression of the democratic will of the people. I think of opposition party certainly have reflections to take on whether or not they agree with the direction this country is taking, the direction this government is taking of making sure that we have people’s back and we’re thinking about the coming years in the responsible way.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (18:51)
And I look forward to those debates and discussions.
Marieke Walsh: (18:55)
Good afternoon. Marieke Walsh with The Globe and Mail. Prime Minister, your cabinet and Minister Freeland yesterday spoke several times this week about how preventing the spread of the virus is the most important thing for the economy and how that will then be your cabinet’s focus. So how will Canadians measure you by that? What is the goal you’re setting for a successful “limiting” of the virus? What’s the goal in terms of how far this can go and where do you want to see it kept below in terms of the number of cases this fall?
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (19:25)
I think Canadians know that it is really important to control as much as possible the spread of the virus. I think Canadians also know that all governments have their role to play. The federal government has consistently been there to support the provinces in the measures and the challenges they’re facing, whether it’s $19 billion that we sent to the provinces to help with the safe restart, with money for everything from longterm care facilities to more testing abilities. These are the kinds of things that Canadians are looking to their provincial governments to provide.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (19:59)
On top of that, we stepped up with $2 billion directly to the provinces to make sure that our kids can go back to school safely on top of the plans they’d already established. We’re going to continue to work collaboratively. And the reality is nobody knows exactly what’s going to happen in the coming weeks and months. I think Canadians are right to look very carefully at what their various orders of government are doing and the decisions we take and the way we collaborate together and the way we focus on serving them every step of the way.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (20:28)
That’s certainly what this government is focused on and what we will continue to do to ensure that every step of the way we are doing as best as we possibly can keeping Canadians safe and healthy even as we restart the economy carefully.
Speaker 6: (20:43)
We’ll take one last question on the floor.
Speaker 7: (20:45)
Prime minister, just in addition to the last question you answered for Glen McGregor, it sounds like you would actually welcome an election.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (20:55)
I do not want an election. I don’t think Canadians want an election. I think Canadians want politicians to work together to serve them, to build a better future for them and keep them safe during this COVID crisis. I think it’s irresponsible to say that an election would be irresponsible. Our country and our institutions are stronger than that. And if there has to be an election, we’ll figure it out. I don’t think that’s what Canadians want. I don’t think that’s what opposition parties want and it’s certainly not what the government wants.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (21:24)
What we want to be able to do is focus 100% on keeping Canadians safe every step of the way and that’s what we’re going to do. [inaudible 00:03:32]. She wants to say poor SU may ACCE.
Speaker 6: (23:41)
[ inaudible 00:04: 32].
Speaker 8: (24:30)
[ inaudible 00:04:36].
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (24:37)
[inaudible 00:05: 05]. Obviously, the situation varies across the country. The situation here in Ottawa is different from the situation in downtown Montreal. It’s different from the situation in Charlottetown or in [inaudible 00:25:29] . And it’s going to be really important that people listen to the local health authorities in the recommendations they have, but everywhere across the country. People need to be careful. People need to be vigilant. People need to be attentive. People need to be listening to the best recommendations of public health, which obviously means having 338 MPs converge on Ottawa from every corner of the country is probably not what we’d want to see from our leadership in this country.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (25:58)
So we’re going to move forward with a hybrid situation as worked very well through the spring months, where people are both physically in the chamber and represented through video conference. The challenge that we’re also moving forward with is understanding that one of the core elements of our democracy, of the privileges of individual parliamentarians is to be able to vote for your constituents. And it would be extremely unfair for MPs in more remote sectors or particularly vulnerable sectors to not be able to speak up for their constituents.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (26:34)
And that’s why we’re going to be moving forward with a form of distance voting that will allow every parliamentarian to make sure that their community is heard as we move forward on important measure. We’ve got to interim measures, but we’re moving forward on ensuring that our democracy continues to be fully functional in a way that doesn’t put MPs, their families or their communities at risk.
Speaker 6: (27:00)
Speaker 9: (27:00)
Speaker 10: (27:00)
Speaker 11: (27:00)
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (27:00)
Speaker 10: (27:00)
Thank you. [French 00:27:57].
Speaker 12: (27:00)
Speaker 13: (27:00)
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (27:00)
Speaker 10: (27:00)
Speaker 14: (28:58)
[French 00:28:58] snowbirds [French 00:29:31].
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (28:58)
Speaker 10: (28:58)
Speaker 15: (28:58)
[French 00:30:37]. Thank you. Our next question is from Bill [Teary 00:30:40] from The Globe and Mail. Please go ahead.
Thank you, Prime Minister. I want to ask you, in your December throne speech, your government promised to act on PharmaCare and there’s been some rumblings that something similar might be coming this summer. So where’s your government at in terms of delivering on the PharmaCare promise that you made in the election and in your last throne speech?
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (31:01)
Obviously we will have lots to say about the priorities of this government and the continued priorities of this government in our upcoming throne speech a week from now. But what I can highlight is obviously the world has changed in many ways over the past number of months with this COVID crisis, which requires us to set forward a new throne speech, which is what we’re going to be doing. But at the same time, our concern for the most vulnerable, our desire to support Canadians who need an extra hand, our desire to make sure that Canadians are safe and healthy, not only continue but are even more reinforced than ever before. So I look forward to engaging with Canadians on the priorities we will be laying out in the coming week.
Speaker 15: (31:47)
Following up, Bill?
As you know, throne speeches are usually very high level documents. So should we expect a followup date or even a budget there hasn’t been a budget this year, that will come shortly after that we’ll provide more details about some of the things you’ve been talking about today?
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (32:03)
Of course, our finance minister is working very, very hard on making sure that we can continue to demonstrate the kind of ambition and responsibility that is always characterized liberal governments. We will be responsible about the investments we make, both to help keep Canadians safe right now and make sure we’re building back better into the future. But I can also highlight that along with the throne speech, our government has gotten into the practice of releasing mandate letters that give a much more detailed look at the kinds of things that we’re expecting our government to deliver on and our ministers to work on. And that will certainly be part of the coming weeks as well.
Speaker 10: (32:43)
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: (32:43)