Prime Minister Justin Trudeau talks decriminalization, housing in 1-on-1 interview with CHEK News

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau talks decriminalization, housing in 1-on-1 interview with CHEK News

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau came to the CHEK Media Centre on Friday for a sit down chat with CHEK’s Rob Shaw.

In the one-on-one interview, Trudeau discussed issues affecting Vancouver Island, including drug decriminalization, housing, and public safety.

Much of the interview can be read below, while the full, uncut interview can be watched above.

B.C.’s decriminalization pilot project

Decriminalization is a hot-button topic for British Columbians, with B.C.’s chiefs of police recently testifying in Ottawa that the pilot project is impacting their ability to manage public drug use in places like beaches and hospitals.

Trudeau said the federal government is committed to taking a “science-based, compassionate, public safety approach on the opioid crisis and on the toxic drug supply crisis across the country,”

He added that it was British Columbia that first came forward with its idea for a decriminalization pilot program, but Ottawa is happy to support the approach.

“We said, ‘OK, we’ll work with you on that and we continue to be there to try to support them as they figure out how to make it work.”

He said the country needs to take innovative steps to tackle the toxic drug crisis, since previous solutions “haven’t been as effective as we wanted to.”

“I think the fact is, we need to be ambitious in trying to solve this. It’s not just people in [the] Downtown Eastside or tent encampments that are dying of toxic drugs, it’s people in the suburbs, middle class families,” he said.

“There is a huge challenge out there and our ability to save lives, our ability to use science and harm reduction and safe consumption as ways of trying to get through this, is the right path.”


Residents across British Columbia are keenly aware of the issue of housing scarcity and affordability in the province.

Trudeau praised the B.C. government for coming forward with its “BC Builds” program, which aims to accelerate the construction of housing for people with middle incomes.

Announced in February, the province promised $2 billion for the BC Builds program, which the federal government matched.

“We said, ‘That’s great, you’re putting forward $2 billion, we’ll match it with $2 billion of our own,” said Trudeau. “So we turned around and created Canada Builds, where any other province that wants to do it – none have taken us up on it yet – any other province, we’re willing to do what we did for B.C., because B.C. is really being a leader on this in all sorts of innovative ways.”

He added that the federal government is modernizing a Second World War housing effort that saw Ottawa create a catalogue of designs of single-family homes so developers could build them faster, by not having to draft their own designs for each project, while ensuring they were meeting all safety codes.

“Well, we’re taking the same approach with a catalogue now, but instead of focusing on single-family homes we’re focusing on duplexes, quadruplexes, row homes, town homes, so kinds of things that can be built at scale to really go after this challenge,” he said.

Last year, B.C. announced it was also looking into a similar program.

Public safety

Public safety has been top of mind for many who live in B.C.’s capital.

Just this past month, Victoria police have been called to seven stabbings, two of which were fatal.

The rash of high-profile crimes prompted some community members and business owners to come forward with their concerns.

“Absolutely, it is really concerning,” Trudeau said. “People, particularly in a beautiful city like Victoria, deserve to feel safe in their communities.”

“That’s why, as a federal government, we have been investing in the kinds of things that are going to help with that. We’ve been investing in policing, investing in community safety, but also in things like housing and homelessness, addictions and mental health treatment.”

He said it’s the federal government’s goal to work with each province to address safety issues, particularly in the wake of the pandemic and inflation.

He closed out his interview saying he was ware of Poilievre’s recent trips to the Island, and that the federal Liberals are focused on the future as the 2025 federal election looms.

SEE ALSO: Poilievre says Eby, Trudeau should immediately end decriminalization pilot project

“The plan we’re putting forward this week and that we’re going to be campaigning and working on this next year, and governing on, is fairness and regeneration because quite frankly young people don’t quite see the opportunities in the future that we want to, and that’s what we’re working on.”

Trudeau’s full interview with CHEK News on April 19, 2024 can be viewed at the top of this story.

With files from CHEK’s Rob Shaw and Adam Chan


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