REGINA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau faced blunt questions from people at a town hall in Regina including one from a man who fears Canada's immigration policies are putting lives at risk.
The man told Trudeau that Canada's policy threatens freedom, that Islam and Christianity don't mix and suggested that some immigrants want to kill Canadians. It was met with a chorus of boos from the nearly 1,000 people in attendance.
"They have openly stated that they want to kill us, and you are letting them in," the man said Thursday at the meeting held at the University of Regina.
Trudeau seemed taken aback, but answered that Canadians can have confidence in the system. He said immigrants help bolster the economy and make communities more resilient.
"Sir...How am I going to go on this one," Trudeau replied. "Canada is a country that was built on immigration."
Another man chided the prime minister for signing the new trade agreement with the United States.
Courtland Klein, 38, who works at the Evraz steel fabrication plant in Regina, said the federal government should have walked away from the deal because of U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum.
Trudeau said that wasn't possible.
"I know here that steel and aluminum are extraordinarily important, but so are agricultural exports, so are the billions of dollars worth of trade that every part of the country does with the United States — our most important market every single day," Trudeau said.
Klein, who was wearing a "I love pipelines" T-shirt, said afterwards that he had friends outside protesting against the carbon tax and for the construction of pipelines.
Some protesters held signs with slogans such as "Canada Needs Pipeline Jobs" and several tractor-trailers honked their horns as Trudeau started the event.
Klein has worked at Evraz for 15 years and said his whole family works in the oil and gas industry. He's concerned with the choices Trudeau is making.
"He's making decisions that are going to cost me and my friends their jobs," Klein said.
The prime minister was also challenged on the carbon tax, which has been met with stiff resistance in the province.
Saskatchewan is asking its Court of Appeal to rule on whether Ottawa's plan to impose the tax on the province is constitutional. The case is to be heard in February.
Jason LeBlanc from Estevan, Sask., asked Trudeau why he will have to pay the carbon tax.
Trudeau responded by saying people will have the choice in this fall's federal election to choose whether they want to be part of creating a solution to climate change.
"Or do you want to hide your head in the sand and pretend that there is no problem we have to deal with?" he said.
One woman told Trudeau that she has read news articles that he supports Shariah law, that Quebec gets its oil from Saudi Arabia and that Canada is being run by a global government.
Trudeau said none of those points are true and urged people to be skeptical about what they read on the Internet.
"In the upcoming election I hope that people will question what all politicians say and try to see who might be telling the truth and who might be twisting the truth."
The prime minister was also challenged to explain why Canada is honouring a contract to sell light armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia.
Trudeau said the federal government is grappling with the details of a complex contract signed by a previous government and will continue to speak up for human rights.
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Ryan McKenna, The Canadian Press
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