Despite a traditional Newfoundland and Labrador delay — rain and high winds — Justin Trudeau touched down in Clarenville Thursday night to throw his support behind Churence Rogers.
Rogers is the Liberal candidate in the upcoming byelection in the riding of Bonavista-Burin-Trinity. The spot became vacant when long-time MP Judy Foote stepped down this fall.
Also vying for the spot in the House of Commons is Conservative candidate Mike Windsor, New Democrat Tyler James Downey, Green Party candidate Tyler Colbourne, and Shane Stapleton, who is running for the Libertarian Party of Canada.
In a quick, 5-minute campaign speech, Trudeau made his pitch for Rogers as the candidate to succeed Foote.
"We need to make sure you have a strong voice, the way you've been spoiled in the past. The way you need — I need — a strong member from the team from Bonavista–Burin–Trinity," he said.
"I can tell you, no one worked harder [for the Liberal nomination] than Churence, and Churence deserves your support, and he earned your support," he said. "But I have to say, I got a soft spot for teachers."
Crowds braved the cold for their chance to shake hands and take pictures with Trudeau.
Clarenville resident Shawn Hart brought a sign, and was hoping to press the Prime Minister for federal government action in the case of Widlene Earle, a 12-year-old girl from Haiti who has spent eight years in an adoption process.
"He ducked out the back door and took off," Hart said, who shouted after the prime minister as he left. "I expected it. He doesn't want to be confronted with this."
Shawn Hart came to the Trudeau rally in Clarenville tonight to try to speak to the PM to get action on his friend's stalled international adoption. He says federal government is acting. Hart didn't get his 90 seconds with Trudeau. MORE: https://t.co/3wFUOtRVA1 #cbcnl pic.twitter.com/oFPrvxsnxj— @GarrettBarry
Thursday's meeting with Rogers is Trudeau's first stop during his visit to the province. Rogers said it was exciting to be introduced to a crowd by the prime minister, but said the work "really begins" after the by-election, set for Dec. 11.
On Friday, Trudeau will be in Happy Valley-Goose Bay to issue an apology to survivors of the province's residential schools. They were left out of the Harper government's 2008 apology to survivors in the rest of the country.
Sources told CBC Thursday evening that the Innu Nation is not ready to accept that apology, but Trudeau did not take questions from reporters about the issue.