Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned against anyone trying to “amplify” Canadians’ fears as he arrived on Parliament Hill in Ottawa for Canada Day celebrations today.
According to a new poll commissioned by CBC News, Canadians are feeling worried and conflicted as they head toward the fall federal election.
The survey found high levels of anxiety caused by both personal and global factors — with the costs of basics like food and gas, and the impact of climate change ranking highly on a list of what keeps Canadians up at night.
“That anxiety is real,” Trudeau said in a politically tinged interview just before the noon stage show Monday, Canada’s 152nd birthday.
“There’s a lot of people struggling to make ends meet, a lot of people worried about their future, about their kids’ future, about their retirement, about reconciliation, all sorts of things, especially climate change,” he said.
“My responsibility as a politician, as a leader is to help allay those fears and put forward solutions. Others might choose to amplify them, but I think what we need to do is really be putting forward concrete solutions. That’s what we’ve been working on for four years, and hopefully we can continue.”
It’s Trudeau’s fourth Canada Day as prime minister and his third time celebrating on the Hill.
Last year, at the height of the tariff dispute with the U.S., Trudeau broke with tradition and visited Leamington, Ont., Regina and Dawson City, Yukon, a tour he reminded the Ottawa crowd of during his address at noon.
“We put up a united front. We leaned on each other. We had each other’s backs and we didn’t get pushed around,” said Trudeau, in a campaign-like speech to the crowd.
Thousands flock to Parliament Hill
He touted job numbers under his tenure and the diminishing number of long-term boil-water advisories in First Nation communities.
“We can’t forget that Canada did not happen by accident, and it won’t continue without effort and hard work,” he told the sea of white and red.
“We can and must continue to make our country even better.”
By 1:15 p.m. ET, close to 16,000 people were gathered on the Hill, according to the Parliamentary Protective Service, including Vancouver-born actor Ryan Reynolds.
Last year for the noon show, close to 6,200 battled a heat wave.
Another VIP, astronaut David Saint-Jacques, made a video appearance from Houston, Texas, where he’s recovering from his recent stint in space.
The Strumbellas, Coeur de Pirate and Alan Doyle headlined the entertainment.
Scheer travels from N.B. to B.C.
While Ottawa remained one of the largest Canada Day parties, Canadians celebrated from rainy Halifax to sunny B.C.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, though, people marked Memorial Day to reflect on the more than 700 Newfoundland Regiment soldiers who were killed or wounded at Beaumont Hamel on July 1, 1916, during the First World War, and to honour all veterans from the province.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer spent the day travelling across the country, starting in New Brunswick and ending in Kelowna, B.C.
“I’ve got a positive Conservative message that is all aimed at making life more affordable, a government that will live within its means so that we can leave more money in the pockets of hard-working Canadians to let them get ahead,” said Scheer during a stop at a Ribfest in Toronto.
“That’s a message I’m sure will resonate. I’m very optimistic about my ability to connect with voters between now and the election and then ongoing.”
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is spending the day around his Burnaby South riding in B.C.
In a statement recorded earlier, Gov. Gen. Julie Payette said she hoped Canadians would get out and about regardless of the weather to hike, celebrate and watch the fireworks.
After all, she said, “We are a land of four solid seasons and it is not a little rain or a little snow that will stop us.”