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Canola feud on Trudeau's agenda

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau touches down in Winnipeg tonight for a Liberal party fundraiser, and will be meeting with labour leaders Tuesday. (Graham Hughes / Canadian Press files)</p>

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau touches down in Winnipeg tonight for a Liberal party fundraiser, and will be meeting with labour leaders Tuesday. (Graham Hughes / Canadian Press files)

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 25/3/2019 (304 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will meet in Winnipeg today with the head of Richardson International, amid China’s escalating canola spat with Canada.

After attending a Liberal party event for donors Monday night, Trudeau was scheduled to meet with labour leaders today to highlight his party’s skills-training promises for the fall election.

For the second visit in a row, Trudeau will not meet with Premier Brian Pallister while in the city, this time due to a scheduling conflict. The two are at loggerheads over untapped federal funding.

Together with International Trade Diversification Minister Jim Carr, Trudeau will meet this morning with Richardson president Curt Vossen as well as the head of the firm’s parent company, Hartley Richardson.

Last Friday, China blocked all canola seed imports from Canada, three weeks after suspending Richardson’s export permit, citing "dangerous pests."

China’s actions are widely viewed as retaliation for Ottawa’s arrest last fall of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou at the request of United States tax authorities.

Prior to the canola meeting, Trudeau will take reporters’ questions at the Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology after showcasing skills-development initiatives from last week’s budget.

If passed, the budget would allow Canadians to claim an annual $250 credit to undergo courses or training programs, up to $5,000, and allow employees to bank up to four weeks of employment insurance to upgrade their skills.

Trudeau will also meet today with representatives from the Manitoba Federation of Labour about a range of issues.

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers is expected to attend; they will likely raise questions about numerous issues that culminated in back-to-work legislation last November, which was passed without the support of some local Liberal MPs.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada will likely attend and raise issues around the ongoing Phoenix pay-system debacle.

Sources say any leaders suspected of turning a blind eye to recent allegations of sexism within the Winnipeg Labour Council will not be present for Trudeau’s meeting.

The focus of Trudeau’s short visit on labour and jobs highlights the Liberal party’s manoeuvres in areas where the NDP could gain some ground in October’s federal election. After finally winning a seat as an MP, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has his eyes on Liberal-held ridings such as Winnipeg Centre.

Trudeau will likely be asked about Monday reports that he kiboshed an attempt by former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to appoint Glenn Joyal, the chief justice of Manitoba’s Court of Queen’s Bench, as both a Supreme Court judge and the head of that court. Joyal wrote in a statement that he had withdrawn his candidacy due to a family issue.

Premier Pallister will be in British Columbia today to meet with his counterpart, as well the B.C. opposition leader. The premier’s office said Trudeau’s team had extended an invite but the two couldn’t nail down a time for a meeting.

The prime minister last visited the city Feb. 12 to unveil funding for a Winnipeg Transit garage in Fort Rouge. That funding involved a federal-municipal partnership without the province’s involvement.

While Manitoba had funded various transit projects through cost-share agreements, the bus-garage allotment did not involve the Pallister government, a rare divergence in how Ottawa tends to fund infrastructure projects.

The Liberals have doubled down on that approach in last week’s budget, doubling municipalities’ share of the long-standing gas tax, a levy used to pay for infrastructure such as road upkeep and transit.

Pallister and Trudeau remain in a dispute over untapped funding allocations, which Ottawa claims amounts to $1.9 billion, ranging from housing and mental-health supports to infrastructure projects. The province has pushed back on suggestions that Manitoba is exceptionally slow to sign final deals or submit proposals, and say Ottawa has stalled on approving Manitoba’s submissions.

Carr has been critical of the province for not following through with trilateral meetings with him and Mayor Brian Bowman, to discuss issues that include infrastructure allocations for Winnipeg. A meeting had been planned for last week, but Pallister’s office pulled out.

The province has questioned the usefulness of such chats, given that Carr does not oversee infrastructure programs. Some within his government have also been critical of Carr for chiding Pallister over infrastructure cash, arguing his comments spoiled the chance for a productive conversation.

dylan.robertson@freepress.mb.ca

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History

Updated on Monday, March 25, 2019 at 5:46 PM CDT: full writethrough

9:22 PM: adds photos from fundraiser

March 26, 2019 at 7:41 AM: Final

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