Trudeau targets byelections, water agency HQ in Manitoba stop


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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited Manitoba on Wednesday to rally support for his party’s candidates in two local byelections, which he expects to serve as a preview of the 2025 federal vote.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited Manitoba on Wednesday to rally support for his party’s candidates in two local byelections, which he expects to serve as a preview of the 2025 federal vote.

Trudeau became the first main party leader to stop on the campaign trails in Winnipeg South Centre and Portage—Lisgar ahead of the June 19 contests.

“The choices people get to make in these upcoming byelections are a reflection of the choice that Canadians are going to get to make a couple of years from now in the general election,” he said at a morning event at The Forks.


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in Manitoba Wednesday to support Liberal candidates in two local byelections.

Trudeau accused Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre of sowing division in Canada by stoking anger and fear.

“The choice people are going to make in these byelections and in the election in a couple of years is about who we are and who we want to be, and what kind of world we want to build for our kids,” the prime minister said.

Later, Trudeau spoke at a rally in support of Ben Carr, the Liberal candidate in Winnipeg South Centre.

Carr’s father, Jim, held the seat from 2015 until his death in December.

Damir Stipanovic is running for the Conservatives, Julia Riddell for the NDP and Doug Hemmerling for the Green party. Several independents have registered amid a grassroots group’s push for electoral reform.

Elections Canada listed 16 confirmed candidates Wednesday.

Trudeau, who won a minority government in the September 2021 election, also made a stop in Portage la Prairie to support Liberal candidate Kerry Smith in the Tory stronghold of Portage—Lisgar.

The seat became vacant when longtime MP Candice Bergen resigned in February.

Bergen’s former campaign chair, Branden Leslie, is running for the Tories.

People’s Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier, who lives in Montreal, has also entered the race.

Four byelections are taking place in Canada on June 19. The others are in Ontario and Quebec.

At The Forks, Trudeau met with Indigenous high school students before he formally announced the Canada Water Agency’s headquarters will be located in Winnipeg.

Using the Assiniboine River as a backdrop, he did not reveal a precise location nor how many jobs the agency will bring to Winnipeg. He did not say when the headquarters will open.

Updating the Canada Water Act remains one of the government’s first priorities, said Trudeau, who did not provide details about the planned changes.

Ottawa has pledged $85 million over five years and $21 million ongoing thereafter to create a national freshwater protection agency.

The federal government said it will work with provinces, territories, Indigenous peoples and others to keep water safe, clean and well-managed.

Mayor Scott Gillingham said downtown Winnipeg is selected for the headquarters. The agency could bring hundreds of direct and “ripple effect” jobs to the city, he added.

“It’s going to turn attention and eyes from across the world onto Winnipeg, and the important research work that is being done here,” Gillingham told the Free Press after the announcement.

During a news conference, Trudeau vowed to “be there” for the families of Indigenous women Morgan Harris and Marcedes Myran, whose remains are believed to be in the Prairie Green Landfill, just north of Winnipeg.

City police believe Harris, 39, Myran, 26, Rebecca Contois, 24, and an unidentified woman since named Mashkode Bizhiki’ikwe (Buffalo Woman) were slain by an alleged serial killer last year.

Trudeau wouldn’t say if his government will provide funding for a landfill search, after a recent study by an Indigenous-led committee determined one would be feasible.

A search could cost $84 million for 12 months or $184 million for three years, the study found.

Trudeau said Ottawa continues to study the committee’s report and recommendations.

“The violence done to these women, the violence that is ongoing in missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls is a heartbreak, not just for the city of Winnipeg or Manitobans, but for all Canadians,” he said. “We will continue to be there to support, and we will make decisions when the time comes, but I can tell you that we will be there.”

The final event on the prime minister’s itinerary was an evening town hall event at the Duckworth Centre.

Trudeau appeared in Winnipeg a day after former governor general David Johnston said a formal inquiry into alleged foreign interference in Canada’s recent elections isn’t necessary.

Trudeau appointed Johnston as a special rapporteur to lead an investigation into alleged interference by China.

At a televised news conference in Toronto, Poilievre accused Trudeau of having “something to hide,” while repeating his call for an inquiry.

Trudeau invited opposition leaders to obtain the security clearance required to review the intelligence in Johnston’s report.

Twitter: @chriskitching

Chris Kitching

As a general assignment reporter, Chris covers a little bit of everything for the Free Press.


Updated on Wednesday, May 24, 2023 7:55 PM CDT: Adds fresh art

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