B.C. Premier John Horgan and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meet at Nanaimo’s Vancouver Island Conference Centre. NICHOLAS PESCOD/The News Bulletin

Prime minister welcomed by premier as cabinet retreat in Nanaimo begins

PM Justin Trudeau and Premier John Horgan meet in advance of federal cabinet meetings

The Canadian Prime Minister and his cabinet ministers will be in the Harbour City for the next few days, talking trade, economics and border security.

It’s all part of the Liberal government’s cabinet retreat, which was announced by PM Justin Trudeau earlier this month and is take place at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre today, Aug. 21, through Thursday.

Premier John Horgan was in Nanaimo this afternoon to greet the prime minister.

Trudeau said there will be conversations this week around topics such as affordability, housing and fishing and salmon protection.

Wildfires were also mentioned; Trudeau said his thoughts were with crews fighting wildfires around the province and the PM said he was planning meet with crews and evacuees.

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Some federal ministers arrived in Nanaimo early and participated in events. Navdeep Bains, minister of innovation, science and economic development, led digital and data consultations with tech-industry representatives at the conference centre on Monday. There was a Liberal Party fundraiser Monday night, and Jane Philpott, minister of indigenous services, was on hand Tuesday morning for a funding announcement of support for Huu-ay-aht First Nations children’s programs.

Bains said this week’s cabinet meetings will focus on the government’s economic agenda, with conversations around NAFTA.

“But it’s really focused on people, on how can we help their day-to-day cost-of-living issues, how can we make sure that the anxieties they have about their own job prospects and the job prospects of their kids are addressed,” Bains said. “This is a great opportunity for us to continue to lay track for our economic policies, focus on that, but also get ready for the election, as well, which is coming around the corner in 2019.”

The cabinet retreat will wrap up by 5 p.m. on Thursday afternoon. While meetings take place at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre throughout Wednesday and Thursday, the events are not public.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada announced in press release that members would be demonstrating near the Service Canada office on Front Street on Wednesday afternoon, in protest of the Phoenix pay system.

RELATED: PM Trudeau and federal ministers to meet in Nanaimo

-with files from Greg Sakaki/The News Bulletin

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