Trudeau restarts 'neglected' relationship with mayors
Published Friday, February 5, 2016 11:40AM EST
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stressed the importance of collaboration and respect after meeting with the mayors of several big cities in Ottawa Friday, as part of the federal government's move to engage more with other levels of government.
"We are restarting a relationship that has been significantly neglected over the past 10 years," Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa, with several mayors gathered around him. The PM said he wants to collaborate with cities to address issues including transit, homelessness, affordable housing and access to employment insurance.
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said he and his peers look forward to working "shoulder to shoulder" with the federal government, to address the various "shovel-ready" projects they have lined up for the near future.
"We're thrilled to be working with a federal government that gets cities," Robertson said.
Toronto Mayor John Tory, Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre and Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi were also among the city leaders present at the news conference.
Trudeau did not make any funding announcements Friday, as the Liberals are still preparing their first budget, slated to be tabled in late March. The prime minister did say whatever money he allocates to Canadian cities will be divided up based on their "varied and diverse needs."
"We are focused on being both flexible and fair," Trudeau said. He added that the Liberals want to "get money flowing in a responsible, rapid way."
Trudeau acknowledged that some cities need more help now, because of the negative impact of low oil prices.
"There is a real need to offer support for Albertan families, many of whom are facing the first ever experience of job losses, and need support," he said.
The PM also restated his government's pledge to legalize and regulate marijuana, in such a way that it will protect young people and take a bite out of street gang revenues.
Vancouver's mayor said he is "very much looking forward" to the Liberals "following through on their commitment to tax and regulate marijuana."
Robertson added that the City of Vancouver does not consider marijuana-related crime to be a "priority," when compared to violent crimes.
Raymond Louie, president of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, called the upcoming budget a "potential turning point" for the country's cities, in a statement issued Friday.
"We are ready to work with the prime minister, his cabinet and Parliament to get the job done," Louie said in the statement.
"(Trudeau's) personal engagement on municipal issues is a matter of real significance and points to the potential strength of our growing partnership."