Prime Minister Justin Trudeau touted the benefits of the latest federal budget on Monday, highlighting spending on infrastructure for electric vehicles during a visit to Victoria.
Last week’s federal budget placed an emphasis on transitioning to the green economy, which includes expanding the availability of zero-emission vehicles and charging stations.
Speaking at Royal Roads University in Colwood, Trudeau said the budget would make electric vehicles easier to buy and expand a national network of EV chargers, saying “thousands” more would be added.
“We know that over the past years there have been a number of Canadians who have stepped forward and made the switch to electric vehicles,” he said. This investment in this budget is going to allow for thousands more (charging stations). We know that that is a key path forward.”
Trudeau also touted his government’s “ambitious and concrete” emissions reduction plan, which set a target of one in five new cars that are sold being zero emission by 2026.
By 2030, the target is 60 per cent. That is up from the 50 per cent goal set by the Liberals less than a year ago.
Trudeau also met with Mayor Lisa Helps at Victoria City Hall where they discussed affordable housing, climate change and the opioid crisis. A small group of vaccine mandate protesters gathered outside and shouted and honked at Trudeau as he entered the building.
He greeted several city councillors before sitting down with the mayor for roughly 15 minutes. Helps says she let the Prime Minister know how he can best help address the city’s housing crisis.
“Give us a target, here’s some funding, meet that target and have very few strings attached and just let us go for it,” Helps said.
Trudeau also met with the Victoria Youth Leadership Council for roughly 40 minutes.
Three senior cabinet minister were also in B.C. and Yukon on Monday to discuss the budget.
International Development Minister Harjit Sajjan was scheduled to be in Kelowna, B.C., for a clean economy announcement and Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson was slated to travel to Whitehorse to announce a clean energy partnership with Yukon and the Indigenous-run Tlingit Homeland Energy Limited Partnership.
Federal Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray was scheduled to be in Richmond, B.C., for an infrastructure announcement.
Trudeau’s tour also included meetings scheduled with Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps and the City of Victoria Youth Advisory Council.
Asked what he would say to protesters planning to attend his visit with Helps, Trudeau said he support their right to protest.
“I can’t remember a trip to Victoria City Hall where people weren’t expressing their concern in one way or another,” he said. “At the same time, I think it’s important to understand that we’ve been through a couple of really difficult years.”
Trudeau said the pandemic has led to anxiety, helplessness and frustration with government-imposed mandates, despite the latter mostly being lifted across the country.
“These are things that people are obviously going to be expressing and I think it’s important to acknowledge that.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 11, 2022.