OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau brushed off a question about his ethical compass Wednesday, saying Canadians will have an opportunity to draw conclusions on his record in “election campaigns.”
Trudeau made the comment during an interview on CBC Radio’s “The Early Edition” after host Stephen Quinn asked if it’s fair for Canadians to wonder about their prime minister’s sense of right and wrong, particularly in light of the WE Charity controversy and multiple Conflict of Interest Act violations.
The prime minister chalked up that kind of flak to partisan politics.
“I think that’s certainly something that a lot of people are talking about in opposition,” Trudeau said. “And Canadians will make their determinations in election campaigns.”
He said his government is “totally focused on doing the right things for Canadians,” and referenced the “historic amounts of supports” the Liberals introduced to buttress the widespread economic shocks due to stay-at-home orders because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Watch: NDP MP Charlie Angus says youth minister should resign over WE deal. Story continues below.
Trudeau struck a campaign tone in his interview, blaming “the right” for political pushback on the topic of safe-injection sites. Yet, he chose not to support a recommendation by seven chief public health officers to decriminalize illicit drugs, calling the proposal “not a silver bullet” to address the province’s ongoing opioid overdose crisis. He said a comprehensive health-care approach was needed
He also lambasted Conservatives for being critical about emergency COVID-19 spending.
The prime minister repeated points he has previously made to justify the decision to prorogue Parliament last month, explaining the pandemic has forced the government to update its priorities
A new throne speech is expected to be delivered Sept. 23, followed shortly by a confidence vote that if the Liberal minority government loses, would trigger a fall election.
“I know British Columbians understand that we need to go much more aggressively towards a greener economy,” he said, appealing to the western audience of the Vancouver-based show.
“That’s why prorogation and the throne speech, which will allow opposition parties to weigh in on whether or not they agree with the new direction we’re taking for building back Canada is fundamentally an important thing in our democracy.”
The interview was part of the prime minister’s virtual tour of British Columbia. Trudeau’s summertime tradition of visiting the region in-person was thwarted this year due to coronavirus pandemic-related travel and physical-distancing restrictions.
Trudeau defends ‘excellent’ Governor General
The prime minister continued his virtual B.C. tour with a radio interview with REDFM Vancouver’s Harjinder Thind where questions about the WE Charity controversy and the government’s plan to manage a record $343.2-billion deficit followed him.
Asked about the allegations of workplace harassment and verbal abuse at Rideau Hall, Trudeau defended Governor General Julie Payette and said he has no immediate plans to get the Queen involved.
“We have an excellent Governor General right now and I think, on top of the COVID crisis, nobody is looking at any constitutional crises,” The prime minister said.
“We have put in place a process to review some of the working conditions at Rideau Hall, but that’s not something that we’re contemplating right now.”
Details of that process were announced Tuesday when the Privy Council Office confirmed it hired a third-party firm, Ottawa-based Quintet Consulting Corp., to conduct an investigation into workplace harassment allegations first reported by CBC News.
The Ottawa firm was previously hired in 2015 to investigate workplace harassment allegations in former senator Don Meredith’s office. Quintet’s final report was escalated to the Senate Ethics Office, spurring a formal inquiry into allegations that was completed in 2019. Meredith resigned in 2017.
Governors General are appointed by the Queen on the advice of the prime minister. They can be removed from the position by the Queen, on advice from the prime minister.