Trudeau tries to rally base amid questions of foreign interference
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau used his keynote speech at the Liberal convention on Thursday to try to rally his base amid ongoing questions over his government's handling of foreign interference.
The Liberal leader also used the opportunity to take some jabs at his main political rival, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre.
Trudeau tried to energize the Liberal faithful gathered in Ottawa by touting his record, mentioning the renegotiation of NAFTA and the Canada child benefit.
"More than ever, in this consequential moment in the world, your energy is needed," he said. "It's because of your hard work that we can continue to deliver for Canadians."
The Liberal party has struggled in recent national polls as the Liberal government is hounded by allegations it is mishandling foreign interference and failing to truly understand the struggles of average Canadians amid high inflation.
The most recent numbers also show the Liberals lagging behind the Conservatives in fundraising. The Tories raised $8,306,535 in the first quarter of 2023 — more than double the amount the Liberals collected, according to Elections Canada data.
Trudeau also used his speech to try to contrast himself with the Conservatives and Poilievre, claiming that they criticize the government for being "too woke."
"Too 'woke?' Hey, Pierre Poilievre, it's time for you to wake up," he said, which garnered a round of applause from the crowd.
Trudeau used the moment to tout the government's child-care deals with the provinces.
"When we see that women's participation in the economy has reached an all-time high, let me tell you something — $10-a-day child care is not woke policy, it's economic policy," he said.
The prime minister acknowledged that Canada is facing "a moment of uncertainty" — specifically due to the rising cost of living — but touted measures in the government's most recent budget as a way to address it.
Hounded in Parliament
Trudeau suggested the concerns he hears from Canadians during town halls are different from those he hears from Conservatives in Parliament. But his comment came after a week of being hammered by the opposition over questions of foreign interference.
Earlier Thursday, new questions about how the federal government handled a reported Chinese government plot to target MPs were being raised after Conservative MP Michael Chong said that a 2021 intelligence report on the matter was shared with the prime minister's national security and intelligence adviser.
The news contradicts comments Trudeau made Wednesday.
Earlier this week The Globe and Mail published an article, citing a 2021 top-secret CSIS document, saying that China's intelligence agency was seeking information about an unnamed Canadian MP's relatives "who may be located in [China], for further potential sanctions."
A national security source reportedly told the Globe that the MP targeted was Chong and that Zhao Wei, a Chinese diplomat in Canada, was working on this matter.
Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly seemed to confirm the reporting Thursday when she told Chong during a committee that "what has happened is completely unacceptable."
Opposition parties are pressuring the government to expel Zhao. Joly said Thursday expulsion isn't off the table but the government wants to weigh the potential blowback from Beijing before making any decisions.