Politics

Justin Trudeau touts 'real progress' for Canada's middle-class amid 'mistakes'

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says despite some "mistakes," the Liberals rallied to make progress in advancing their agenda to help the middle class during the first seven months in power.

Trudeau is hosting the 3 Amigos Summit in Ottawa next week

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau takes questions from reporters during a news conference to mark the end of the spring sitting of Parliament in Ottawa on Wednesday, June 22, 2016. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says despite some missteps, the Liberals rallied to make progress in advancing their agenda to help the middle class during the first seven months in power.

"Along with the middle-class tax cut, and the Canada child benefit, this week's CPP agreement represents real progress on our mandate," Trudeau said during a news conference in Ottawa on Wednesday.

Trudeau was speaking after the House of Commons adjourned last Friday following weeks of high tension and debate over the Liberal government's assisted dying bill, which received royal assent and is now law. 

"As the House rose last week, the tone was significantly more positive," Trudeau said. "We managed to work together on a number of issues, whether it's launching the electoral reform committee that's going to get to work this summer, whether it's a level of cooperation within the House or with the Senate on passing the medical assistance in dying legislation."

The Liberals backed down earlier this month on proposed changes to an all-party committee set up to study electoral reform, after much criticism from the opposition parties.

"I think people have noticed that we are working very hard to continue to live up to the high expectations that Canadians have of this government — and of Parliamentarians in general — and are not above acknowledging when we've made mistakes and working to fix them," Trudeau said following a question about his own behaviour in the Commons.

The prime minister apologized several times last month for making physical contact with two opposition MPs that resulted in a melee on the floor of the House of Commons.

"I think you've all heard me apologize and take responsibility for what was a mistake and that's what people expect of each other, and it's what they should expect of their leaders," he said today.

Trudeau handled questions on a number of other topics during the 30-minute press conference:

  • On the workload facing his wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, Trudeau said he is proud of the charity work she is doing for women and children, and said his office is working on ways to ensure she can continue to do so.
  • On the next phase of an inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women, Trudeau said he wants an inquiry to offer justice for the victims, acknowledge the tragedy of lost lives and offer families a chance to heal and share their stories in a meaningful way.
  • On what he would say to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trudeau said he already told Putin at the G20 meeting late last year that Canada continues to see Russia's incursion into Ukraine as "illegitimate and irresponsible."
  • On Thursday's vote in the United Kingdom on whether to exit the European Union, Trudeau said the outcome was up to the British people but he's made it clear he believes Britain and the EU are "stronger together."
In his end of sitting press conference, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau discusses why he wants Britain to stay in the EU and why it matters to Canada. 1:25

Trudeau will be meeting Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto for a bilateral visit in Ottawa next Tuesday ahead of the North American Leaders' Summit with U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday.

A decision by the previous Conservative government to impose a visa requirement on Mexico travellers to Canada has been a major irritant between the two countries.

Trudeau formally committed to lifting the visa requirement during a face-to-face meeting with Pena Nieto on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Antalya, Turkey in November.

The prime minister also spoke about the importance of re-engaging with Mexico on climate change and economic growth.

"That's exactly what I'm looking forward to with the upcoming state visit from Mexico, as we work to fix some of the challenges that have been going on for too long, like the visa issue."

During his visit to the White House in March, Trudeau and Obama agreed to make progress on a number of fronts, including reporting back within 100 days on a new agreement on softwood lumber exports to the United States. The current deal expired last year and a one-year grace period during which the Americans agreed not to launch any trade action against Canadian producers expires in October.

Trudeau said in French that while his government has a "very good" relationship with the Obama administration, no announcement was forthcoming just yet.

The prime minister will attend a meeting of NATO heads of state and government in Warsaw, Poland on July 8 and 9. He will also make his first official visit to Ukraine on July 11 and 12.

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