Prime Minister Justin Trudeau faced some tough questions at a visit Thursday with École Robert H. Smith School students in Winnipeg.
After being asked by one student to pick a favourite place in Canada, another spoke up before Trudeau could answer.
“Why did your dad give everyone in Western Canada the middle finger?” one student asked the prime minister.
Trudeau replied jokingly to the first child’s question.
“Salmon Arm, British Columbia,” he said, referring to the location where, while on a train in 1982, Pierre Trudeau famously gave the middle finger to a group of B.C. protesters angry about high unemployment.
“My father had an approach to politics that not everyone agreed with,” said Trudeau later.
“In politics, you have to make big decisions and whenever you make big decisions there’s always going to be people who agree with it and people who disagree.”
Trudeau stopped at the school Thursday afternoon after 450 Robert H. Smith students, from kindergarten to Grade 6, sent handwritten letters and poems inviting him to a school assembly during his Winnipeg visit.
“You absolutely made my day when I got the letters,” Trudeau told the assembly of cross-legged kids. “It was such a pleasure for me to read them.”
Trudeau is taking part in a whistle-stop tour across Canada designed to reconnect with citizens and answer questions in town halls. Winnipeg’s town hall forum took place at the Duckworth Centre at the University of Winnipeg later on Thursday.
After Trudeau’s visit, students told CBC meeting the prime minister was “surreal” and “amazing.”
“It was probably the best experience of my life,” said 11-year-old Jayden Gepta. “I got an actual chance to talk to him and he gave me a hug.”
“He’s done a lot of good things in Canada,” said Grade 4 student Sofia Bieber.
Trudeau experiences Jollibee
Trudeau’s time in Winnipeg included a brief midday stop at the city’s new Jollibee, the first Canadian location in a fast-food restaurant chain which is popular in the Philippines.
Roughly 80 people were packed into the restaurant, including Liberal MP Kevin Lamoureux and Liberal MLA Cindy Lamoureux. The father and daughter represent nearby constituencies with large Filipino populations.
A cheer went up in the small restaurant as Trudeau arrived. He posed for a picture with staff, saying “I won’t delay orders that much.”
He stopped to have pictures taken with virtually every group that was seated before proceeding to the next event.
Oh my mom is so cute 😂 well Trudeau was at Jollibee haha pic.twitter.com/S1nRfIdktT
Trudeau’s visit to Winnipeg followed stops in Regina and Calgary, where the prime minister was challenged Tuesday on his commitment to growing the Albertan economy while also transitioning away from fossil fuels to meet climate change goals.
Earlier in his whistle-stop tour, the prime minister faced harsh criticism in Ontario over the prices of electricity as well as the backlog of issues associated with problems with the Phoenix pay system in New Brunswick.