Trudeau touts open Canadian immigration system in face of Trump travel ban
Prime minister's news conference wraps up Parliament's spring sitting
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he will continue to promote Canada's open immigration policy on the world stage as controversy rages over U.S. President Donald Trump's travel ban.
Trudeau said Tuesday during a news conference in Ottawa to wrap up the parliamentary sitting that government officials have had "multiple conversations" with the U.S. administration about protecting Canadian rights in the face of immigration decisions south of the border.
"But at the same time, Canadians have been very clear that we see immigration as a net positive, that we know we don't have to compromise security to build stronger, more resilient communities," he said. "I will continue to stand for Canadian values and Canadian success in our immigration system as I always have, whether it's in Washington or in Hamburg next week or elsewhere around the world."
On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed a limited version of Trump's ban on travel from six mostly Muslim countries to take effect.
The justices will hear full arguments in October, but in the meantime, the court said Trump's ban on visitors from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen could be enforced if those visitors lack a "credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States."
Trudeau defends sniper role
In the wide-ranging news conference in the National Press Theatre, Trudeau was asked about topics ranging from trade concerns with the U.S. to recent news that a Canadian special forces member had shot and killed an ISIS fighter at a record distance for a sniper.
Trudeau called the sniper actions "entirely consistent" with the role of troops in northern Iraq. The "advise and assist" mission has always had an element of defending Canadian forces as well as our coalition partners, he said.
"That is something that is integral to this mission, and that is something that has always been followed," he said.
NDP Leader Tom Mulcair has said the incident suggests Canadian forces are actually involved in direct combat in Iraq, and has called on Trudeau to provide the public with more details on the role of the mission.
Trudeau said the incident should be "celebrated" for demonstrating the excellence in training and performance of duties by the Canadian Forces.
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National Defence said the sniper, part of the Joint Task Force 2 special forces unit, was supporting Iraqi forces when he shot an enemy fighter from 3,540 metres away.
That is more than a kilometre farther than the previous record, held by a British sniper who shot a Taliban fighter in Afghanistan in 2009.
Trudeau also said he broke his key electoral promise to reform Canada's electoral system because there was no compromise from other parties, and he didn't want to use his Liberal majority to ram through fundamental change.
"There was no path to do that."
'No path' on electoral reform
Trudeau said Liberals preferred a ranked ballot system, while the NDP wanted a proportional voting system that would have led to "fragmented" parties.
Conservatives wanted to keep the status quo, he said.
"It was a very difficult decision for me," Trudeau said in describing his decision to break the promise.
Asked about when the government will eliminate the deficit, Trudeau said his government is targeting billions in new spending on infrastructure and other services Canadians need and will not put a timeframe on when it will "arbitrarily" balance the books.
Trudeau also touted what he sees as the government's key accomplishments so far, namely helping improve the quality of life for the middle class and taking steps to tackle the opioid crisis before taking questions.
The prime minister also reacted to a new round of anti-dumping tariffs imposed on Canada's softwood lumber industry by the U.S. Department of Commerce. He said he is focused on being "constructive" and working toward a deal that will help protect thousands of jobs in Canada.
Earlier Tuesday, the prime minister issued a statement to mark Multiculturalism Day.
'Differences make us strong'
"Canadians come from every corner of the world, speak two official languages and hundreds more, practise many faiths, and represent many cultures," he said. "Multiculturalism is at the heart of Canada's heritage and identity, and as Canadians, we recognize that our differences make us strong."
Canada's tradition of multiculturalism has meant fresh perspectives and new answers to old problems, Trudeau said.
Noting that Canada is celebrating both the 150th anniversary of Confederation and the 35th anniversary of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Trudeau said the milestones are a reminder of the values that unite Canadians: Openness, inclusion and deep respect for our differences.
"Whoever we are, wherever we come from, these values bring us together as equal members of this great country," he said.