Trudeau faces 'very different climate from his last visit' at this week's Regina town hall

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau could be walking into a tough situation in Regina during his town hall meeting on Thursday night.

Prime minister to talk jobs, economy and the middle class in Regina on Thursday night

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has cancelled a trip to Regina. He was set to appear at a Canadian Tire store to speak about the carbon tax and climate incentive rebates, as well as deliver remarks at a Liberal Party fundraiser. (John Woods/Canadian Press)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau could find himself in a tough situation during his upcoming visit to Regina, says a University of Regina political studies professor.

"It's a very different climate from his last visit," said Jim Farney, the department head of politics and international studies at the U of R.

Trudeau will speak at the university on Thursday night in a town hall meeting.

Multiple protests have been held in the city recently, including a pro-pipeline rally at the legislative building on Tuesday, along with an anti-pipeline rally on the same day near the RCMP buildings.

Trudeau will likely need to address those issues, but also plans to discuss job creation, the middle class and growing the economy, according to a post on Regina-Wascana MP Ralph Goodale's website.

"This time I think it's more fraught because of these other conflicts that are going on, because of the way we're getting closer to an election, and that Conservative-Liberal conflict is getting more heated," said Farney.

However, he thinks Trudeau's charm could win over the crowd.

"The most powerful tool the Liberals have in their political arsenal is the charisma of Justin Trudeau and that in-person magic he's got," Farney said.

Jim Farney, department head of politics and international studies at the University of Regina, said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's charisma could be a factor in how Thursday night's town hall in Regina goes. (CBC News)

"There's a lot of reasons for him to come and bring that charisma and try to get folks who support his policies energized."

Farney said the town hall meeting is a way for Trudeau to "kind of step on the toes of [Saskatchewan Premier] Scott Moe and say, 'Listen, I'm in your backyard and look at me, I've got a big crowd here, too.'"

Another controversial topic that will likely come up is the federal carbon tax, which is scheduled to take effect on April 1.

Farney says Saskatchewan has become "ground zero" for opposing the tax.

Protesters say they'll 'make visual statement'

Protests involving people dressed in yellow vests have also been happening in Regina, and other Canadian cities, after protests in Paris broke out over a fuel tax increase.

The Paris yellow vest protests later morphed into demonstrations against France's high cost of living, income inequality and French President Emmanuel Macron.

Yellow vest protests in Canada have focused on a range of issues, including migration and the federal carbon tax.

Rhonda Cwynar, who has attended several yellow vest protests in Regina, says she will be making her voice heard outside the venue for Thursday's town hall, along with others who will be dressed in bright yellow attire.

About 200 people were at a Dec. 15 rally in Regina, many of whom expressed strong sentiments against Justin Trudeau and his Liberal government. (Cory Coleman/CBC)

She said the goal is to give people a platform, rather than focus on specific issues associated with yellow vest protests.

Critics have accused Canadian yellow vest protests of providing a platform for racism and "disturbing" anti-immigration sentiments

But Cwynar says the Regina gathering is "basically to create the awareness that we're tired of not being heard."

"It's all about people taking their individual power back and understanding that we do have a voice in this, we are the people of this country and our government should be listening to us."

The rally at Thursday's town hall will also be a way to "make a visual statement to our prime minister that we, the people, are waking up and we are tired of what our governments are doing to our country," she said.

It will be a peaceful gathering, said Cwynar, and she expects people from around the province to attend.

Trudeau is scheduled to speak at the Centre for Kinesiology on the U of R campus starting at 7 p.m. CST. Doors open at 5 p.m.

About the Author

Cory Coleman

Cory Coleman is a reporter, web writer and associate producer for CBC Saskatchewan. Have a story idea? Email cory.coleman@cbc.ca

With files from Zarqa Nawaz

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