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Trudeau talks Biden presidency, COVID-19 business challenges with B.C.'s Mountain FM

Last Updated Jan 8, 2021 at 9:58 am PST

FILE -- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the situation in Washington remains serious and his government is tracking the developments closely.

In a phone interview with Mountain FM in Whistler on Thursday, Trudeau said he hopes the electoral process in the U.S. unfolds peacefully, and he is looking forward to working with President-elect Joe Biden, who has now been confirmed by Congress.

“Yes, there’s more alignment on things that really matter to a lot of Canadians, like climate change, with the incoming president so we’ll be working on that. But my job is to make sure I’m defending Canadian interests and that’s going to remain,” he said.

Listen to the full interview between Justin Trudeau and Mountain FM’s Darren McPeake and Marshall Whitsed

When earlier asked if he was relieved that Biden had secured the election, Trudeau said his job is to work with the president — no matter who they are.

“Obviously the past four years have had their challenges but we’ve been able to do really big things, like secure access to our most important partner at a time of protectionism by renegotiating a good NAFTA deal,” he explained.

On when Biden will make his first trip north in his capacity as president, the prime minister said details were still being worked out.

Trudeau’s chat with Mountain FM comes a day after he spoke with NEWS 1130’s Martin MacMahon, offering his thoughts on the situation that was unfolding in the U.S. amid the violence that erupted at the Capitol building, where lawmakers were set to certify Biden’s presidential victory.

He said Thursday that his government was keeping a close eye on the situation, and reiterated his concern Thursday.

“It’s something that obviously is quite serious and we’re watching it closely,” Trudeau said on Mountain, offering few other comments, “other than we hope that the electoral processes unfold peacefully.”

COVID-19

Trudeau spoke with businesses in the Whistler area over the past week to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts on the economy.

The prime minister acknowledged that the health crisis has been “a difficult time for everyone, particularly areas that are reliant on tourism and international travellers the way Whistler is.”

Whistler is a world-class destination that draws visitors year-round, particularly in the winter months.

Trudeau said that while businesses in certain industries and areas are used to “a certain ebb and flow from one season to the next,” he noted how unprecedented the months previous have been.

“They are hopeful that things are going to get better soon with the vaccines coming. I think we all are hopeful about that,” he said.

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On the pace of vaccine delivery, Trudeau said Canada was one of the first countries to receive doses in December.

Data has shown that Canada is behind some of its allies when it comes to administering vaccines. While he aired his frustrations earlier this week, Trudeau pointed out “we’ve already seen this week significant accelerations of the processes across the country as people are getting the systems more in place.”

“I’m confident the pace of vaccination is going to pick up rapidly and we will be there to support and help the provinces as they get these vaccines out the door,” he added.

When asked about his view on people driving hours to the mountain to ski or snowboard amid the pandemic, Trudeau reiterated the importance of avoiding non-essential travel.

“I know how tempting it can be to get out there, but the reality is we are not in normal times right now in this pandemic. We need to be following public health advice and part of that advice is not to travel unnecessarily,” he said, noting he understands the impact that can have on local businesses.

Rogers, which owns Mountain FM, is also the parent company of this station