Justin Trudeau goes one-on-one with CBC host Andrew Chang
The Liberal Party leader talks transit, harassment allegations, CBC funding and raising a family
Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau was in the hot seat this week when he sat down for a one-on-one interview with CBC host Andrew Chang.
Trudeau was in town touring some of his favourite places around the Lower Mainland, including the Nelson Street apartment building where he lived after moving out of his father's home in his mid-20s.
He also took a stroll through Caulfeild Cove in West Vancouver, where he reminisced about playing as a child.
"Vancouver is home. I spent a huge amount of time here as a kid growing up with my mom, with my grandparents who lived here," he said.
"When I chose to make it out on my own, to leave home in Montreal, I came here. I got a university degree. I taught for five years. This is where my becoming an adult really happened."
On Wednesday, Trudeau sat down with Chang at Library Square in downtown Vancouver and answered some tough questions about everything from transit funding to harassment allegations within the Liberal Party.
Click on the video titled Trudeau in conversation with Chang to watch the full one-on-one interview with Justin Trudeau.
Here are a few excepts from that interview.
On transportation funding
Metro Vancouver mayors have proposed a $7.5 billion, 10-year-transportation plan that includes big ticket projects like replacing the Pattullo Bridge and building a new subway line along Vancouver's Broadway corridor.
British Columbians will be asked next spring to vote 'Yes' or 'No' to a new 0.5% Metro Vancouver Congestion Improvement Tax that will go toward the mayors' plan. However, some of the funding will have to come from the federal and provincial governments as well.
When asked whether he supports federal-municipal partnerships on transit projects, Trudeau replied, "Absolutely."
"Obviously transit is something super important because it not just allows us to get to work in reasonable time, it has impacts on housing prices in terms of where someone can live and still get to work. It has impacts on climate change," he said.
"One of the challenges that Vancouver and cities across the country are facing is that we don't have a federal partner in terms of building for transit, not in the way we need."
On Liberal candidate nominations
Trudeau has come under fire in recent weeks over allegations by Sikh Liberals that prominent businessman Barj Dhahan was forced to withdraw his bid to become the Liberal candidate for Vancouver-South because they allege the party favours Harjit Singh Sajjan.
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Justin Trudeau denied the accusations that his party is undemocratic and said he is "extremely proud" of the open nomination process.
"There were two contestants that were on the path to [being] greenlit. One of them chose to withdraw. Open nominations have never meant anyone who chooses to run can suddenly run. I use the example of Rob Ford. If Rob Ford decided to contest a nomination contest for the Liberal Party, we have a process that says, 'Actually, you're not a Liberal and that crack-smoking thing really doesn't fly with us,'" said Trudeau.
"There is a clear process that people have to go through and Barj made a decision to withdraw from the race."
In a heated exchange with Chang, Trudeau denied he or the party forced Dhahan to walk away.
"Any time you have a competitive situation like politics is, there are winners and there are people who don't win and their supporters can sometimes be very emotional."
In an exclusive interview the following week, Dhanan claimed he was pressured to withdraw from the race as the Liberals had a preferred candidate for that riding.
On harassment allegations
Trudeau has also come under fire for the way he handled harassment allegations against two of his party members.
Ethics critic Scott Andrews and Quebec MP Massimo Pacetti were suspended from the party's caucus for personal misconduct following accusations by two New Democrat MPs.
CBC News later learned the two New Democrats were angry with Trudeau because his actions thrust their stories into the public domain.
When asked whether his handling of the situation was heavy-handed, Trudeau responded, "Absolutely not."
"It's 2014. When a leader receives direct allegations, direct stories like I heard, I have an obligation to act," said Trudeau.
"The other alternative was to keep things quiet, to brush things under the rug, to try and keep things behind the scenes and in 2014, we cannot simply sit back and allow allegations like that to go unresponded to."
On CBC funding cuts
Turning the conversation inward, Chang broached the subject of government support of the CBC.
Earlier this year, amid funding shortfalls and revenue losses, CBC/Radio Canada announced it would have to cut $130-million from this year's budget and lay off hundreds of employees.
Trudeau said those funding cuts were not warranted.
"CBC has a very important mandate to bind Canada together in both official languages, tell local stories, and make sure we have a sense of our strength, our culture, our stories."
"I would reverse the process that is taking place ... that is cutting."
On raising a family
Finally, as leader of the Liberal Party, Trudeau's busy schedule keeps him away from his wife and three children for long stretches of time.
However, he had this parenting advice to offer Chang.
"The real secret is focus on giving them as much love and attention as you can, don't get distracted by your BlackBerry, don't get distracted by your job. The time you're with them, focus on being with them and when you're not, make sure you're doing the kinds of things that will build a better world for them."