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Justin Trudeau on the hot seat in ‘the Furnace’
September 7th, 2017
Canada’s Prime Minister Hosted a Town Hall in UBCO’s Gym and Faced Some Heated Questions
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made an appearance at UBC Okanagan on Wednesday, and received a warm welcome from the students, staff and Kelowna community. Chief Clarence Louie officially welcomed the Prime Minister and his cabinet onto Okanagan land, on behalf of the First Nations Okanagan bands.
From inside UBCO’s furnace, the Prime Minister faced an array of burning questions from the Okanagan community, all of which sparked some intense responses from those present, ranging from applause to heckling from the crowd.
He faced daunting questions about the status of the investigations on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women; the recent Tax Reforms that have been criticized for their negative impact on small business owners; the imperfect immigration system; the unresolved problems plaguing many Canadian Indigenous communities, and a question about the British Columbia transportation sector, brought up by a spectator that commented on UBCO’s leading research – all which were answered with Trudeau’s staple calm and collected stature.
“Defending rights is something we do as Canadians.”
Trudeau faced an irritated spectator over his unfamiliarity with the laws around maternity leave in British Columbia. A practicing female physician argued that the tax reform will only hurt her as a small business owner, as she will not receive the same benefits as her own employees, such as maternity, retirement, and pension. Trudeau stated that he was fairly certain that in all provinces female physicians do receive maternity leave. This was met by large calls to the contrary and a member of the crowd loudly calling out “you’re lying!” Trudeau met this criticism with the calm response of “I said I was fairly certain, and I’m happy to be corrected.” His reply was met by a round of applause from the audience.
He was also confronted with the popular question surrounding the prolonged mistreatment of Indigenous people in Canada, and the steps taken in an attempt to reconcile the Indigenous population. Trudeau admitted Canada had failed in its effort to uphold the treaties and “live up to our responsibilities, to our promises, to our word, [and] to our honour, in regards to Indigenous peoples who are the original inhabitants of our land.” He continued by stating that it would take more than the legislation in Ottawa to resolve the century-long issue. To regain the trust that was broken and rebuild the fractured Indigenous communities it will require the effort of all the peoples of Canada for generations to come.
The most enthusiastic response of the night, which included a standing ovation, was given to a young member of the transgender community who offered thanks to Trudeau and his cabinet for the passing of Bill C-16 through parliament. This bill disallows hate or discriminatory propaganda towards the LGBTQ+ community, and outlines such actions as a criminal offence. Justin Trudeau responded with a smile, “defending rights is something we do as Canadians.”
To view more photo’s from this event visit our photo gallery.