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opinion

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

Owing to what one must assume was some kind of clerical error, I was once again excluded from the list of journalistic luminaries selected for the traditional year-end interviews with the Prime Minister. However, I made some inquiries, called in some IOUs, and succeeded in snagging an interview without him.

Q. Prime Minister, very good of you to do this. I want to start, if I may, with the situation in Ukraine. You’ve said repeatedly that Canada “is there for Ukraine,” yet military experts have said Canada’s contribution to the war effort has been, for the most part, too little, too late. In fact, General Andrew Leslie called it –

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Q. He was your Chief Whip, Prime Minister. On the question of China’s campaign of interference in Canadian elections, you’ve been careful to say you were not informed of any direct payments from China to what has been called a clandestine network of at least 11 candidates in the 2019 election. However, you have offered no response to what was actually reported, which is that China provided indirect assistance to these candidates, and that security officials briefed you on this two years ago. Can you confirm or deny this?

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Q. The Bank of Canada has said it is determined to bring inflation back in line with its 2 per cent target. Yet even as the monetary brakes are applied, the government seems to have stepped on the fiscal accelerator: spending continues to rise, unabated. Are you not working somewhat at cross purposes?

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Q. Well, I’ll bet you’re thinking about it now. In the news, yet another of your ministers has recently been reprimanded by the Ethics Commissioner for violations of federal ethics rules. Given your own well-documented history of ethical lapses, is it not time you acknowledged responsibility for this government’s apparent culture of impunity?

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Q. You told the public inquiry into your use of the Emergencies Act in relief of the siege of downtown Ottawa last spring that you were comfortable with that decision, but is there anything you now think you might have done differently before then? For example, your use of vaccine mandates as a wedge issue in the last election?

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Q. Yes, but that was in French. You’ve promised Canada could meet its carbon emissions targets and still export its oil and gas to the world. On present form it doesn’t look like we will do either. Thoughts?

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Q. Moving on, do you actually know how to define an “assault-style weapon?”

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Q. Not a week goes by, it seems, without some provincial government or other making some fresh assault on the Charter of Rights or claiming a power it does not possess under the Constitution. Your father was a fierce defender of Canadian unity, minority rights and the rule of law. Yet, you have remained inert in the face of these challenges. Why?

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Q. I’m sorry, the answer we were looking for there was “just watch me.” In your time in office, you’ve expanded the responsibilities of the federal government, or promised to, on several fronts: daycare, dental care, pharmacare, among others. Given the desperate state of the basic health care system, is this really the time for Ottawa to be taking on new challenges?

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Q. Which reflects most poorly on the government: the airport mess, the passport mess, or the military sexual assault mess?

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Q. Okay, on to the short snappers. Iran?

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Q. Artificial intelligence?

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Q. Which is more like the other, Bill C-11, C-18, both, or neither?

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Q. Canada: broke, woke or bespoke?

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Q. Chrystia Freeland?

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Q. No, honestly: Chrystia Freeland?

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Q. Final question. Prime Minister, I keep reading stories describing you as newly energized by the Conservatives’ choice of Pierre Poilievre as leader; that you’re eager to face him in the next election. But isn’t it true that the Liberals remain several points back of the Tories in the polls – that in fact you have fallen further behind since Mr. Poilievre took over? At what point do you concede that you’ve become a liability for the Liberals – that the party would have a better chance of winning under a new leader? Or do you wait until senior Liberals come to tell you your time is up?

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Q. No, Prime Minister, thank you.