The mood was jovial, and a large, loud enthusiastic crowd greeted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in front of St. F.X.’s Morrison Hall on Tuesday afternoon.
Trudeau’s visit to Antigonish came not long after he announced $90 million in federal funding for the twinning of Hwy 104, a project in which the province is investing $195 million.
“It’s exciting because we know it’s going to increase public safety, get people to and from work and get goods to market quicker,” an upbeat Trudeau said, speaking onstage to a crowd that packed University Avenue, eager to shake the prime minister’s hand and pose with him for a litany of selfies.
“These are the kinds of things that matter,” Trudeau said, emphasizing the importance of twinning the dangerous stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway between Antigonish and Sutherland’s River.
Trudeau made another announcement while in Antigonish, alluding to the federal government’s plan to increase the amount of money it contributes to the Canada Child Benefit.
“Families across the country will have more money for back to school clothes and supplies, more money for after-school activities, and more money for groceries. These are the kinds of things that make a difference in the lives of Canadians,” he said, noting that Canada was the fastest growing country in the G7 group last year.
Trudeau also congratulated the people of Antigonish for the “extraordinary opportunity” and honour of hosting the Special Olympics Canada 2018 Summer Games, and emphasized the importance of immigration to the growth of the economy, looking out into the crowd and acknowledging the hard work of Tarek Hadhad, owner of Peace by Chocolate.
Although many in the crowd were enthusiastic and smiling, a number of people organized with signs and placards, expressing their concern for the environment, referring to the federal government’s purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion from Kinder Morgan for $4.5 billion.
Trudeau addressed those protesters as they chanted and voiced their opposition to the federal government’s pipeline decision, by saying that there is a fine line that he believes Canada is walking, both protecting the environment and building the country’s economy.
“Unfortunately, there are folks who still think there is a choice to be made between protecting the environment and growing the economy,” Trudeau said. “I know Canadians know the only way to build a stronger future is to grow the economy in sustainable ways while doing everything to protect the environment.”