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Trudeau touts pipeline approvals while campaigning in Calgary

CANADIAN NEWS YOU SHOULD KNOW

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is on Vancouver Island today, where he visits the Esquimalt military base and the mayor of Victoria. Later he meets with B.C. Premier Christy Clark.

More controversy is brewing as the Liberals pick candidates in two by-elections in Montreal and Markham, Ont.: One candidate, a rival of a woman taking leave from the Prime Minister's Office to run for the seat north of Toronto, says Tamil-Canadians were shut out of taking part in the nomination vote.

In the event that Canada faced a Sept. 11-style attack in which a commercial aircraft was hijacked to be used as a weapon, fighter jets would be dispatched to shoot the plane down, according to protocols received by the CBC through Access to Information. Many sections of the documents were improperly redacted by ATI bureaucrats, but the CBC does not indicate what extra information was revealed.

Other documents obtained by the CBC challenge the idea that Donald Trump's election led so many Americans to look up Canada's immigration website that the site crashed. In fact, it looks as though the crash might have been caused by a deadline for a different type of travel document.

It's looking increasingly likely that Kelly Knight Craft, a Republican activist from Kentucky, will be Mr. Trump's pick to represent the U.S. in Ottawa.

Bruce Heyman, until recently the U.S. ambassador to Canada, says he gives the Liberal government "high marks" for how it's dealt with the Trump administration so far. "I think other leaders around the world are looking to Trudeau and the government here to see how they created that path and maybe try to figure out ways to replicate that," he said.

And GQ has declared Prime Minister Trudeau an "A+ thirst trap." (It means they think he's attractive.)

ISSUE BRIEFING:

THE PRIME MINISTER GOES WEST

By Carrie Tait in Calgary

Justin Trudeau on Wednesday made his sixth appearance in Calgary since becoming Prime Minister. He's keen on counting how many times he's been here, reminding reporters in the opening remarks of his press conference, when he addresses questions, and during his campaign rally.

"This time I'm glad to be here in campaign mode," Mr. Trudeau told reporters in the afternoon. Two Liberal by-election candidates stood on either side of the Prime Minister, a step or two behind him. On his right, Scott Forsyth, running in Calgary Heritage. To the Prime Minister's left, Calgary Midnapore hopeful Haley Brown.

Heritage and Midnapore are not average empty seats. Former prime minister Stephen Harper represented Heritage before stepping down last year. Jason Kenney, the former Conservative Party of Canada cabinet minister now hoping to unite Alberta's right under a party that does not yet exist, sat in Midnapore's seat.

Given Heritage and Midnapore's status as Conservative strongholds, why bother campaigning in Calgary, Mr. Trudeau?

The Prime Minister turned to a stump line he favours when visiting the heart of the oil patch.

"For 10 years we had a government in Ottawa that spent all its time talking about how much it supported Alberta, how much it supported oil sands development, but were absolutely unable to get the pipelines that were needed built," he said. "Those are facts."

Those, however, are alternative facts. The federal Liberal Party (in concert with Alberta's provincial New Democratic Party), for example, takes credit for securing approval for Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, a project designed to get crude to tidewater. Actual construction, however, is a long ways off. Meanwhile, the Conservatives did, indeed, approve pipelines. Enbridge Inc., for example, won approval to build its Alberta Clipper expansion in 2008, connecting the heart of the oil patch to Wisconsin. It has been operating for years.

Still, Mr. Trudeau pushed this argument at the campaign rally Wednesday evening, just as he did on his fifth visit to Calgary since becoming Prime Minister.

Mr. Trudeau said he understands why people question whether he sincerely believes Liberals can snag seats here in the April 3 by-election, but said "nobody expected us to win two seats in Calgary" in the 2015 general election.

"We know that the conversations that we're having at the door [during the by-election campaign] aren't always going to be the easiest in places that have been long-held by Conservatives, but at the same time, I can tell you the two great local candidates we who have rolled up their sleeves, are getting out knocking on doors, having real conversations with people about the kinds of things we're doing and the kinds of opportunities we're offering to Albertans, and Calgarians specifically, is really changing the conversation," he told reporters.

Neither candidate took the mic at the press conference. At the rally Wednesday evening, the two took turns reciting applause lines before they introduced the Prime Minister to the crowd.

"I keep coming back to Alberta. I keep coming back to Calgary. This is my sixth trip as Prime Minister," he told a few hundred supporters gathered in a conference centre on the Stampede grounds. "And I'm going to keep coming back, no matter what some people say, because Alberta matters. Calgary matters."

WHAT EVERYONE'S TALKING ABOUT

Campbell Clark (Globe and Mail): "Most nominations aren't rigged, of course, but there will always be times when party leaders or party brass will want to weed out candidates they don't like, or that they find embarrassing, or when they just want to pick a strong recruit. Canada's political system often makes leaders answer for their MPs."

Chantal Hébert (Toronto Star): "Officially, Trudeau has renounced that leader's prerogative. Early on, he pledged to have open nomination meetings in every riding. But, in reality, he has replaced [Jean] Chrétien's somewhat brutal clarity by an opaque vetting process for which neither he nor party officials seem to be accountable."

Bill McKibben (Globe and Mail): "There are, of course, very real and important differences between Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Trump. But, while these differences are important, perhaps more poignant is where the two men are similar: pipelines."

John Ibbitson (Globe and Mail): "If Mr. Trump truly wished to adapt the Canadian immigration ethos, he would have to embrace concepts he currently rejects. First and foremost, he would have to fling open the doors."

Ed Broadbent (Globe and Mail): "Inequality is not new. It also existed in the postwar decades. The difference: In those years, the majority were making real gains. What's destabilizing for democracy today is that this is no longer the case – the majority are increasingly aware that they are being left behind."

Andrew Coyne (National Post): "[Kevin] O'Leary is almost literally phoning it in, offers nothing but his money and his celebrity and his vast cheek as credentials, tells Conservatives they are 'losers' and that the party is 'irrelevant,' won't even attend fundraisers unless they meet a $50,000 minimum, and the response of thousands of grassroots Tories is: 'Thank you sir, may I carry your bags?' "

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Written by Chris Hannay.

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