OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government intends to forge ahead with the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline project, saying that it is in the national interest — even if it is opposed by New Democrat and Green MPs, whose support he is going to need to implement the government’s agenda.
Trudeau says he will unveil a new, gender-balanced cabinet on Nov. 20 and is vowing to work with opposition parties in his first public comments since election night, when voters handed the Liberals a minority mandate.
However, Trudeau — who held his first news conference Wednesday in Ottawa since Monday’s trip to the polls — is unequivocally ruling out any possibility of a coalition, formal or informal, with his political rivals in the House of Commons.
He also vowed to find a way to ensure that Alberta and Saskatchewan have a voice in cabinet after the Liberals didn’t earn a seat in either province.
Trudeau said he has already spoken with Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe, as well as other western politicians like Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, to get the region’s issues in front of the government and bridge any political divides.
“It’s extremely important that the government works for all Canadians, and as I have endeavoured to do over the past years, and as I will do even more now, deliberately, I will be reaching out to leaders across the country, reaching out specifically to westerners to hear from them,” he said.
“This is something that I take very seriously as a responsibility to ensure that we are moving forward in ways that benefit all Canadians, and I will be listening and working with a broad range of people to ensure that that happens.”
It wasn’t just premiers out west that Trudeau spoke with — he also reached out to Quebec Premier Francois Legault and Ontario’s Doug Ford, whose unpopularity Trudeau used as a battering ram against Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer.
Reflecting on Monday’s vote, he said Canadians gave him a lot to think about, and that he will take the time necessary to reflect on how to work with the other parties. To that end, he is promising to sit down with all party leaders to hear their priorities.
Scheer has put the onus on Trudeau to work with the provinces and opposition parties over the coming months, while NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has said he wants Trudeau to address his party’s key priorities in exchange for New Democrat support.