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From Bell Island to Belleville: Trudeau starts national tour to “remain connected with Canadians”

national post 2017-01-12 17:35:32

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will spend two days on the road in southern Ontario beginning Thursday, the first leg of a national “listening tour” that his office has said will help him “remain connected with Canadians.”

His last bit of travel took him to Bell Island in the Bahamas, a getaway owned by the Swiss-born billionaire, spiritual leader — and close Trudeau family friend — the Aga Khan.

On Thursday, he will travel to more modest locales; a coffee shop, a science centre, a city hall, a theatre and, eventually, a Canadian air force base.

He’ll hold town hall style meetings in Kingston, Ont. at mid-day and another at the supper hour in Belleville, Ont.

He’ll overnight at CFB Trenton and then, on Friday, repeat the process. His day on Friday will be bookended with town hall meetings in the Ontario cities of Peterborough and London. In between, Trudeau — travelling in a minivan with a few aides — plans to make several stops along the way. 

The tour comes at a time when the prime minister is facing scrutiny over this trip to the Bahamas. Two Conservative MPs have filed formal complaints with Parliament’s Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner alleging Trudeau may have violated aspects of the Conflict of Interest Act.

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Before Christmas, Trudeau and the Liberals were deflecting criticism that they were fundraising using “cash-for-access” schemes in which wealthy donors would give the party money in exchange for attendance at small, private events with the likes of the prime minister or finance minister.

The national listening tour — later in the month he will take turns  through Western Canada and Atlantic Canada — is a chance for Trudeau to do what he does best: Work a crowd. But it’s also a chance for a prime minister who may have been too much in the news hobnobbing with millionaires (or, in the case of the Aga Khan, with a billionaire) to be seen rubbing shoulders with everyday Canadians.

Trudeau will finish the month in Calgary where he will convene a two-day retreat with his cabinet.

The House of Commons will next sit on January 30.

• Email: dakin@postmedia.com | Twitter: davidakin