Justin Trudeau answered questions on Monday from a packed crowd of around 3,000 people at the Dartmouth Sportsplex.
The night kicked off with a question about delays in getting privately sponsored refugees to Canada. Trudeau said that the time and resources required to properly settle families is causing the delays.
He also said he is one of the only world leaders who faces pressure for not bringing in new people fast enough, but found “this is a good problem to have.”
Trudeau also faced questions about oil and gas and the environment. He spoke of the need to manage the transition from carbon-based energy to renewable energy and that getting resources to market is an important part of the “transition,” along with his plans to implement a carbon tax.
A tense exchange happened when a woman, who identified herself as Mi’kmaq, spoke about the environmental damage of the oil and gas industry.
“The oil has to stay in the ground,” she said.
Trudeau replied that “we’ll have to agree to disagree” and that 39 Indigenous communities supported the pipeline.
In response, a few people made noise and the woman shouted over him, “lies, lies.”
This halted Trudeau.
“A little respect, please,” he said.
Also in attendance was Romeo Dallaire, a retired lieutenant-general and former senator, who has been advocating for veterans suffering from PTSD.
Dallaire asked Trudeau to do more to take care of veterans and first responders.
Outside the facility, about 100 striking teachers held a demonstration, before some entered the event. The demonstrators were trying to get the public’s attention and wanted to express their opposition to Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil and Minister of Education Karen Casey.
Trudeau briefly referenced the demonstrators while answering a question from a man who wanted to know more about him as a person. Trudeau spoke of his earlier profession as a teacher and acknowledged the teachers, saying “I’m a teacher; I know there’s a bunch in the crowd. … Good to be amongst my peeps.”
He added, “I’m a federal politician, so we’re not going any deeper than that.” That comment got some laughs out of the crowd.
Also in attendance were Halifax Regional Municipality Mayor Mike Savage and Nova Scotia Members of Parliament Darren Fisher, Andy Fillmore, Colin Fraser and Sean Fraser.
On a question about how he would work with Trump administration, Trudeau said that both he and Trump were elected due to their commitment to help the middle class. He acknowledged that the relationship between Canada and the new U.S. administration may be a challenge at times and there are differences between the two countries. But he said that both countries depend on each other for economic prosperity, so it is in both countries’ interest to work together.
The event was part of a cross-country tour of local discussions and town halls.
Disclaimer: Geordie Summers-Lubar worked as an intern in the office of a Liberal MP in the summer of 2016.