Prime Minister Justin Trudeau heads to the podium to speak at the end of a cabinet retreat in Nanaimo last week. NICHOLAS PESCOD/The News Bulletin

Editorial: Government has to work for Nanaimo and Canada

Cabinet meetings in the Harbour City could help the region’s profile with politicians

This time, the prime minister didn’t engage with pipeline protesters. Instead, he presumably got other work done. It will be up to Canadians to decide whether his cabinet’s work will turn out to have been productive.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his federal Liberal cabinet held a retreat in Nanaimo on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday last week, meeting with one another and with members of the B.C. government at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre.

It’s hard to know exactly what the topics of conversation might have been last week. Before the event, the Prime Minister’s Office offered a vague agenda around economic growth and middle-class job creation, and at his closing press conference, Trudeau wasn’t much more specific, repeating those themes.

Various environmental groups lobbed criticism at the government for not specifically stating that climate change would be a topic at the cabinet retreat, and those groups backed up their stance with a raucous protest presence outside the conference centre. From what we could tell, there wasn’t the sort of civil disobedience that happened at Trudeau’s town hall in Nanaimo this past winter, for example, and it’s hard to measure whether a peaceful protest or a rowdy one is likelier to grasp the attention of a government.

We’ll generally side with those who speak out for causes they believe in, and whether the feds care about Nanaimo’s opinion on pipeline politics, we hope the climate was on their radar as they held meetings under smoky skies.

When the federal government books the conference centre for private meetings, ministers are entitled to set their agenda how they see fit. It stands to reason that the meetings in Nanaimo and the time spent here will help, in some ways, for our city and region to register with cabinet ministers nationally and we should anticipate announcements about ways the government wishes to help people here.

We hope the work that was done in Nanaimo will work for Nanaimo.

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