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WTIP attends Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's town hall in Thunder Bay

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a rare visit to Thunder Bay, Ontario on Friday, March 22, speaking at a town hall before about 900 people at the CJ Sanders Fieldhouse at Lakehead University.

Citizens lined up outside the arena hours before Prime Minister Trudeau’s 7 p.m. appearance. The majority of people in attendance seemed to be Trudeau supporters, members of his Liberal party. WTIP talked to many of those patiently waiting and to John Ongaro, of 99.9 The Bay radio.

Ongaro, who had the exclusive Thunder Bay one-on-one interview with Trudeau said it is not surprising that the Prime Minister choose Thunder Bay for the town hall. He said generally Thunder Bay is a Liberal party stronghold.   

After a blessing by a First Nations elder, Patty Hajdu, Member of Parliament and Minister of Employment, Workforce and Labour, who is also a Thunder Bay resident, introduced Prime Minister Trudeau.

Trudeau greeting the crowd warmly, repeating his greeting in French and the question and answer session got under way with Lakehead University students serving as microphone runners.

The audience did not shy away from tough questions, including several questions on the scandal that Trudeau’s administration is facing. The controversy led to the resignation of former Canadian Attorney General and Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, who says she faced inappropriate political pressure related to the prosecution of the major Canadian engineering firm SNC-Lavalin.

Four other prominent resignations followed, including that of Jane Philpott, president of the Treasury Board, who cited a loss of confidence in the Trudeau government.

The Prime Minister thanked the audience members for asking those tough questions and shared his thoughts on the matter.

Other audience members asked questions ranging from concerns about the condition of the TransCanada Highway to the need for carbon reduction; from mental health, education and housing, in particular for Indigenous peoples, to attempts to solve hunger issues and about Canada’s military defense.

Prime Minister Trudeau took his last question just before 9 p.m. and expressed regrets that there wasn’t enough time to call on everyone whose hand was raised. After a rousing round of applause, his security team led him from the auditorium, trying to keep the public away. However, Trudeau stopped many times to shake hands and pose for children in the audience.

Below are two reports from the Prime Minister’s visit. In the first, we hear from Canadian citizens waiting to see their country’s leader. We also speak with radio personality John Ongaro about his chance to interview the Prime Minister.

In the second report, we hear from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during the town hall meeting.