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Trudeau talks pipelines, pot in B.C.

Quebec MP Justin Trudeau speaks at radio town hall in Victoria Wednesday. - Tom Fletcher/Black Press
Quebec MP Justin Trudeau speaks at radio town hall in Victoria Wednesday.
— image credit: Tom Fletcher/Black Press

VICTORIA – Federal Liberal leadership candidate Justin Trudeau made a swing through B.C. Wednesday, weighing in on debates about oil pipelines, marijuana and other hot political topics.

Trudeau shook up the national energy debate this week by coming out in favour of oil exports to Asia, and the proposed takeover of Alberta oilsands producer Nexen by a Chinese state corporation.

At a radio town hall meeting, Trudeau said he supports oil exports and Chinese investment because the investment and trade will create more middle-class employment in Canada. But he hastened to add he opposes the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline proposed to run from Alberta to Kitimat. He accused Enbridge of failing to consult with aboriginal people along the route and said he is opposed to a crude oil pipeline to B.C.'s North Coast.

Producers are going to have to "go back to the drawing board and find another way to get oil to Asia," he said.

During the town hall, he was told that Liberal MP David McGuinty had resigned as the party's natural resources critic after denouncing some Conservative MPs as "shills" for the oil industry who should "go back to Alberta." Trudeau said he was offended by McGuinty's comments, and wants to unify the country rather than pit one region against another as NDP leader Thomas Mulcair and Prime Minister Stephen Harper have done.

He spoke in favour of legalizing marijuana.

"The war on drugs as it stands has only been profitable for criminal enterprises and for gangs," Trudeau said. "We need to move beyond that, and I think it makes sense to tax and regulate it because that's actually an effective way of keeping it out of the hands of our kids, who will no longer have access to it on street corners."

Trudeau was also asked about the hot topic of the Nov. 26 Victoria by-election, land-based sewage treatment. He said the costly plan isn't supported by scientific experts, and is only supported by the NDP as a "make-work project" for the Victoria region.

The Liberal Party of Canada is to choose its new leader in a nation-wide vote in April. Other contenders include Ontario MP Martha Hall Findlay, who ran unsuccessfully for the leadership in 2006.

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