OTTAWA — Outrage over the arrests of protestors at the Gidimt'en pipeline blockade dominated the prime minister's town hall in Kamloops, B.C. Wednesday, but some audience members couldn't resist some questions about Donald Trump.
For 90 minutes, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau answered questions from an unvetted crowd at Thompson Rivers University.
Watch: Things Get Heated During Trudeau's Kamloops Town Hall:
Early in the evening, a young man asked Trudeau for his thoughts on the U.S. president's August claim Canada is partly to blame for the scale of the California wildfires because of the Canadian lumber industry.
Trudeau said softwood lumber is an issue he continues to raise with Trump, and added that Canadians expect him to have a constructive relationship with the American president.
He explained he generally tries "not to weigh in on various things" the president says.
"As to any links between fallen logs and brush fires, I will defer to experts and scientists on that."
President Trump claimed at a cabinet meeting last year that the devastating wildfires that swept through California this past summer were exacerbated by fallen trees that should have been logged. The insinuation was if the U.S. had imported less lumber from Canada, more fallen trees would have been processed and fewer homes and forests would have been destroyed by the blazes.
"Canada is charging us a lot of money to bring their timber down into our country," the president said at the time.
The Trump administration introduced a 20 per cent tariff on imported Canadian softwood lumber in 2017 ahead of North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations. The tariffs remain in place despite the signing of the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
Softwood lumber is a major industry for B.C., responsible for 140,000 jobs in the province and accounting for $12.9 billion in provincial gross domestic product. B.C. is the largest producer of softwood lumber in North America.
The second mention of Trump was less of a question and more of an oddball request for the prime minister.
Standing on the gymnasium bleachers, a man (dubbed "the enthusiastic bearded fellow in grey" by Trudeau) prefaced his comment as bad relationship advice. He asked the prime minister to push Trump off a cliff.
"I'll buy ya a beer," the enthusiastic bearded fellow in grey teased.
Trudeau, seemingly surprised by the Looney Tunes-esque proposition, offered a deadpan response.
"I wasn't expecting a threat of violence against our closest ally," he said, declining the offer.
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