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Hill Life & People

The case of Justin Trudeau’s ‘often’ missing name tags

By Marco Vigliotti      

Prime Minister Trudeau reveals how is dad helped his late brother evade a pot possession charge. Rideau Hall will host a conference on giving.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau takes Italian counterpart Paolo Gentiloni on a tour of the House of Commons last week. Photo courtesy of the Flickr account of Justin Trudeau
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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s desk in the House might be a bit harder to find than those of his fellow MPs.

Last week, Mr. Trudeau (Papineau, Que.) treated Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni to a tour of Parliament as part of his official visit to Ottawa. Making their way to the House floor, Mr. Trudeau showed his Italian counterpart the desk he sits behind while in the chamber.

But Mr. Gentiloni noticed something peculiar. The Italian PM asked why there was no name tag on Mr. Trudeau’s desk, like those on the desks used by his colleagues, according to an account of the events posted by Mr. Trudeau’s official photographer Adam Scotti on Instagram alongside a photo of the two leaders.

In his post, Mr. Scotti explained that the tags used in desks in the House are paper, and Mr. Trudeau’s tags “often go missing.” As such, Mr. Trudeau leaves “a bunch” of signed name tags in his desk for the parliamentary pages to use as replacements whenever they are needed, according to Mr. Scotti.

Mr. Trudeau will visit Italy in late May for the G7 meetings in Taormina and afterwards will conduct an official bilateral visit in Rome, he announced on Friday. Following the visit, Mr. Trudeau will venture off to nearby Vatican City, an enclave of Rome that is a wholly independent state, to meet with Pope Francis.

The PMO also said he would be joined on his trip by a delegation of Canadian business leaders organized by the Italian Chamber of Commerce of Canada.

Immediately before his trip to Italy, Mr. Trudeau will head to Brussels to participate in the NATO Leaders’ Meeting on May 25.

Mr. Gentiloni was in the nation’s capital on Friday for his first official visit as prime minister. He assumed office last December after the resignation of then-prime minister Matteo Renzi, who stepped aside following the referendum defeat of his proposed reforms to the Italian Senate. Mr. Gentiloni, a member of the left-of-centre Democratic Party, was the foreign affairs minister in Mr. Renzi’s government.

In speech alongside Mr. Trudeau during the visit, Mr. Gentiloni pointed to Canada’s sizeable Italian community as a path to strengthen the the economic relationship between the two countries.

He also said it was the prime opportunity to reinvigorate the cross-Atlantic relationship, with the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the European Union expected to be provisionally in force in the near future.

Trudeau reveals dad helped brother beat pot charge

During a town hall hosted by Vice Media on Monday, Prime Minister Trudeau revealed that his famous dad helped his late brother Michel beat a charge for pot possession.

Mr. Trudeau said his father, former prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, used his considerable resources and connections to make the charge “go away.”

Michel, who died in 1998 after an avalanche swept him into Kokanee Lake in the Canadian Rockies, had been travelling from Western Canada to Ontario by car when he got into an accident, according to Mr. Trudeau. Upon arriving on the scene, police discovered a few joints in the mangled vehicle and charged Michel with possession of marijuana, he said.

After the charge was laid, the Trudeau patriarch leapt into action.

“When he got back home to Montreal, my dad said, ‘Okay, don’t worry about it.’ He reached out to his friends in the legal community, got the best possible lawyer and was very confident that he was going to be able to make those charges go away,” Mr. Trudeau said.

“We were able to do that because we had resources, my dad had a couple of connections, and we were confident that my little brother wasn’t going to be saddled with a criminal record for life.”

Mr. Trudeau then segued into how Canadians from historically disadvantaged communities or without money and connections are treated vastly differently when it comes to pot possession.

“Canada is supposed to be fair for everybody,” he mused.

The prime minister promised to “start a process” that would “make things fairer” for Canadians currently facing marijuana-related charges.

House to return next week to a flurry of events

Talk about hitting the ground running.

Parliament will be a beehive of activity when the House resumes sitting next week, as many lobby days and parties will greet MPs returning to the nation’s capital.

After a two-week break, MPs will return to the House on Monday and sit for the next three weeks.

On the first Tuesday back, Parliamentarians will be treated to several shindigs on or near the Hill, including a joint CBC-Netflix reception that will feature a screening of the popular television series Anne hosted by Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly (Ahuntsic-Cartierville, Que.); a high-profile party at city hall raising funds for post-traumatic stress disorder wellness for veterans, and a breakfast reception by the Canadian Consumer Specialty Products Association and a lobby day by the Canadian Vintners Association, which advocates for the domestic wine industry.

The city hall bash, dubbed Party under the Stars, will see appearances from Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan (Vancouver South, B.C.), Liberal MP and retired Lt. Gen. Andrew Leslie (Orleans, Ont.), Conservative House Leader Candice Bergen (Portage-Lisgar, Man.), Ottawa city councillor Jody Mitic, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, and CTV News’ Don Martin.

Trudeau revels in Montreal sports fandom in interview

The prime minister recently took some time away from discussing politics to talk about growing up as a sports fan in Montreal during a recent interview for Jonah Keri‘s podcast.

Mr. Keri, who also plies his trade for U.S. television channel CBS Sports Network, sat down with the PM to talk about everything from Canadian identity to former U.S. president Richard Nixon’s famous prophecy about his future in politics, and the global refugee crisis.

But Mr. Trudeau’s musings about his experience with sports fandom seem to be getting the most attention.

Speaking to Mr. Keri, Mr. Trudeau revealed that his father wasn’t a big sports fan but was a strong follower of baseball, largely owing to his family ties to the sport. Mr. Trudeau’s grandfather was one of the part-owners of the minor-league Montreal Royals, where the legendary Jackie Robinson got his start before moving to the big leagues, where he broke the sports’ colour barrier.

Mr. Trudeau said his dad would often bring him and his siblings with him to watch the now-defunct big league Montreal Expos play at Olympic Stadium. The Expos played in Major League Baseball from 1969 to 2004 before being moved to Washington to become the Nationals following years of financial uncertainty.

“For him, baseball was his sport and it was really important for him to bring us to games because as a kid it was one of those things that he had bonded with his dad over,” Mr. Trudeau said of his famous father.

“He was affected all his life because his dad actually died when he was only 15 years old and it left a huge gap in my father’s life, for his entire life. But baseball was really important to my grandfather because he was one of the part-owners of the Montreal Royals, where Jackie Robinson got his start.”

“So for my father, it was really important. We’d go out to the Big O and watch games there. And Andre Dawson, Gary Carter, Tim Raines were my sports heroes at that point because we didn’t have a lot of sports heroes, but those were the three that really popped for me,” Mr. Trudeau said in reference to a few of the Expos’ biggest stars.

Conference on giving to take over Rideau Hall

Governor General David Johnston will host a one-day conference on Thursday as part of National Volunteer Week events.

Governor General David Johnston will host a conference on giving at Rideau Hall on Thursday. The Hill Times photograph by Jake Wright.

Working Together for the Common Good: The Governor General’s Conference on Giving at Rideau Hall, will kick-off at 9 a.m., and will focus on the state of the nation on giving; millennials, values, and giving behaviour; and behavioural science principles to encourage giving. It’s delivered in partnership with the Rideau Hall Foundation.

In a statement, Mr. Johnston said the 150th anniversary of Confederation is an “important year” to reflect on how Canadians can give back to their country “for the benefit of future generations.”

“By convening Canadians from across the country who are involved in giving, we will together develop common approaches and best practices on how to continue to build a smarter and more caring Canada,” he added.

The event will be streamed live online at www.gg.ca/commongood.

mvigliotti@hilltimes.com

The Hill Times 

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