DUNCAN, B.C. — Justin Trudeau mingled with hundreds of friendly people at two family-focused events on Vancouver Island, but the prime minister was also reminded of the strong opposition his government faces over the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.
At an outdoor news conference Saturday at the Forest Discovery Centre in Duncan, B.C., Trudeau acknowledged there are people opposed to the government's decision to buy the pipeline from Kinder Morgan. However, he said, it won't stop the project or Liberal plans to fight climate change.
"There are people out there who think there is still a choice to be made between what's good for the environment and what's good for the economy. I don't," he said. "I know the only way to build a strong economy, moving forward, is by protecting the environment, and ensuring we are protecting the environment for future generations is a deep priority of mine. Always has been."
In May, Trudeau's Liberal government announced its decision to buy the Trans Mountain pipeline from Alberta to the B.C. coast and related infrastructure for $4.5 billion. It could also spend billions more to build the controversial expansion.
"We know we have to put in place a strong plan to fight climate change," said Trudeau. "There are people on the other side of the political spectrum who don't like that."
The prime minister shook a lot of hands and posed for countless selfies, but some placard carrying protesters at the gates of the forestry centre let him know the pipeline issue will continue to dog him, with one even calling him an "oil pimp."
Trudeau also made comments about North Korea, reacting to reports from the United Nations that the country has made few moves to halt its nuclear weapons program.
"We must see a denuclearized North Korea," he told reporters. "North Korea continues to be a concern, not just for regional security but global stability. We need to continue to put pressure on the North Korean regime."
Earlier in the day, Trudeau made a surprise visit to the Duncan Farmers' Market, which quickly attracted a crowd of people around him, with many posing for selfies.
The local band playing at the market stopped its regular set and played "O Canada," with Trudeau later singing with the crowd.