By Jeremy Simes
THE CANADIAN PRESS
REGINA-Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the RCMP Depot in Regina a “Canadian institution” Thursday, but fell short of committing to keeping the Mountie training facility open.
“I think we all recognize there have to be changes in how we move forward to ensure communities are safe, to make sure that police have the tools and abilities to do the work everyone expects of them,” Trudeau said during a stop in Saskatchewan’s capital.
The Mass Casualty Commission’s final report into the 2020 Nova Scotia shooting rampage that left 22 people dead recommended the RCMP phase out the Depot model of training.
The recommendation has been criticized by politicians in Saskatchewan, as the training facility is part of the province’s history and serves as an economic driver for the city.
Trudeau said his government will continue to look closely at the recommendations and take things “one step at a time.”
The prime minister did not meet with Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe during his stop to sell the Liberal government’s new budget. He visited a Regina grocery store and talked about the grocery rebate and climate change initiatives.
Trudeau said Moe’s office was notified in advance that he would be in Regina, but the two leaders weren’t able to meet because the premier was away.
The prime minister added that he has had many productive conversations with the Saskatchewan Party government leader.
“In all my conversations with him recently, including some really big conversations on child care and health care, I have thanked him for his leadership,” Trudeau said.
Trudeau’s January stop in Saskatoon caused conflict with the premier after Moe expressed disappointment he was not made aware of the visit to a rare earth elements processing plant.
Moe’s office said the premier had requested a meeting Thursday to discuss clean electricity regulations, infrastructure funding and the Natural Resources Transfer Agreement with the prime minister.
But it was told Trudeau would only be able to accommodate a short “pull-aside” visit with Moe, and the premier also had meetings in the Prince Albert area.
Trudeau also said his government would not touch the law that gives control over natural resources to the four western provinces, even though his justice minister suggested last week he would look into it.
“We will not be touching the (Natural Resources Transfer Agreement),” Trudeau said. “Natural resources are constitutionally directed to be the purview of the provinces and we are not putting that into question.”
Trudeau later met with students and other community members for a town hall at the First Nations University of Canada.
Saskatchewan is represented in Ottawa by 14 members of Parliament, all Conservatives. The last Liberal MP in the province was Ralph Goodale, who was defeated in the 2019 election.
Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh was also in Saskatchewan on Thursday. He stopped at the University of Saskatchewan’s college of dentistrybefore a meeting with Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark.
The Liberals dedicated $13 billion over the next five years to phase in a new dental insurance program for low- and middle-income Canadians as part of a confidence-and-supply agreement with the New Democrats.
-With files from Kelly Geraldine Malone in Saskatoon
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 13, 2023.