Trudeau Tries to Sell New Plan for Canada, Hoping to Leave Crisis Behind

Trudeau Tries to Sell New Plan for Canada, Hoping to Leave Crisis Behind

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada was selling, but it wasn’t clear that anyone was buying.

At a housing development in Ottawa on Wednesday afternoon, Mr. Trudeau pitched the wonders of his proposal to make home-buying easier, among a vast array of promises in a spending plan his government released this week.

Rod Allen, a retired resident of the development, said he liked some of Mr. Trudeau’s proposals. Still, he wants to hear more from Jody Wilson-Raybould, the former justice minister who has accused Mr. Trudeau and his top aides of improperly pressuring her on handling a criminal case against the Canadian multinational corporation SNC-Lavalin.

Among other things, he would like to know why she resigned from Mr. Trudeau’s cabinet.

Mr. Trudeau’s stop at the Cardinal Creek development on Ottawa’s eastern fringes was the first on what will be a cross-Canada trip to sell his spending plan, and to make his case for re-election this fall.

He is also trying to talk about something other than SNC-Lavalin. But shifting the national political discussion won’t be easy.

“The government isn’t pretending to change the channel,” said John Duffy, a former adviser to the Liberal Party. “But we have to talk about other things.”

“His image, brand, whatever you want to call it,” Mr. Duffy added, “that’s where this has taken its toll.”

By Mr. Duffy’s analysis, a major factor in Mr. Trudeau’s 2015 victory was support from first-time voters. Now, he said, those people may be among the most disappointed and may not vote again.

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Until early February there were widespread expectations that this year’s campaign would be relatively painless for Mr. Trudeau and that his party would be re-elected in October.

And on Wednesday, a Liberal lawmaker, Celina Caesar-Chavannesan, resigned from her party’s caucus. Ms. Caesar-Chavannesan, an open supporter of Ms. Wilson-Raybould, accused Mr. Trudeau of “yelling” at her when she decided not to run again this fall.

With chants of “let her speak,” Conservative members of Parliament pounded on their desks and drowned out the speech in the House of Commons by Bill Morneau, the finance minister, to introduce the budget.

Now Mr. Scheer is trying to paralyze Parliament through procedural measures.

Karl Bélanger, a former adviser to the opposition New Democratic Party, which is to the left of the Liberals, said Mr. Trudeau’s setback may have provided a useful shake-up.

“It may have shed some of the arrogance that was emanating from the prime minister’s office,” he said. “They now know that they can’t take anything for granted so they may be in better fighting form.”

At Cardinal Creek, Mr. Trudeau’s remarks were all about housing and the budget.

But the questions from reporters that followed were all about SNC-Lavalin.

Speaking with reporters, Mr. Trudeau dismissed the need to hear more testimony from Ms. Wilson-Raybould or anyone else.

“People can be reassured that there was a full airing of everything associated with the issue at hand and we now continue to move forward on responding to the other concerns that people have,” he told reporters.

As the prime minister strolled back to his motorcade down the street, Mr. Allen, the resident of the development, said he was unimpressed by Mr. Trudeau’s suggestion that the SNC-Lavalin affair was over.

“Everybody should be allowed to speak,” he said, referring to Ms. Wilson-Raybould.

But he held little hope that all of his lingering questions will be answered.

“They’re doing a good job of shutting it down,” he said, adding, “It’s going to die.”

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