Trudeau and Ball discuss the Atlantic Accord and Innu children's homes at a closed-door meeting


A “wide range” of issues were on the agenda at a private meeting between the Prime Minister of Canada and the Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador on Friday.

Before the media was excluded, Justin Trudeau and Dwight Ball had a brief photo opportunity where they revealed some of the topics to be discussed.

“Today we're going to talk about things like Innu children in care,” Ball said. “I also want to talk about drug provision, of course, Bill C69, but the top priority now is obviously continuing the discussion on the Atlantic Accord.”

Trudeau agreed, saying it was a priority to “make positive progress” in the Atlantic Accord talks.

In a press release issued after the meeting, Ball said the discussions “focused on Newfoundland and Labrador being the primary beneficiary of offshore resources and that these resources be jointly managed.”

They hope to complete the review of the Atlantic Agreement by the end of March.

No mention of SNC-Lavalin during the speech

Earlier, Trudeau took a tour of Memorial University's main science building, which is still under construction, and gave a speech to Liberal donors at the Alt Hotel in downtown St. John's.

In his speech, he addressed the erosion of trust in public institutions around the world. He mentioned the United States, France and the United Kingdom, but failed to mention the burning issue of the SNC-Lavalin scandal at home.

Eddy Kennedy/CBCEddy Kennedy/CBC

Eddy Kennedy/CBC

“We are living through a time when people around the world are distrustful of their institutions and fear that they will not be supported in the changes in the world around them. And that is causing people and democracies around the world to respond in different ways,” he said.

Not only did Trudeau not mention the tensions in Canada, but he said his government was doing just the opposite.

“What we are doing here in Canada is building trust in these institutions. Governments cannot do everything, but what they do, they should do well.”

During the tour of Memorial University, Trudeau was asked about the SNC-Lavalin scandal. He said people should pay close attention to the comments made this week by Secretary of the Privy Council: Michael Wernick.

“Canadians expect us to always be committed to jobs and to ensure that we protect and even promote economic growth across the country. That is one of the fundamental responsibilities that everyone expects of their government,” Trudeau said.

“But of course they expect their government to respect the rule of law, to uphold the independence of our judiciary and to defend our institutions. And that is exactly what this government has always done.”

Speaking to a local audience, Trudeau recounted his stag do in Newfoundland, when he and MP Seamus O'Regan went sea kayaking in a snowstorm. Trudeau says he was thrown out of the Sundance on George Street.

Muskrat Falls on the program

During the tour of Memorial University, Trudeau was asked by reporters about the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project, which is over budget and over schedule and the subject of an ongoing public inquiry. He was asked whether or not there would be another government loan guarantee.

“We will continue to work with the government of Newfoundland and Labrador to keep the cost of living affordable, as we do across the country,” Trudeau said.

“We have provided significant loan guarantees to the Muskrat Falls project, which has reduced costs, but we are always interested in hearing directly from the Prime Minister on how we can ensure that our collaboration benefits the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.”

Danny Arsenault/CBCDanny Arsenault/CBC

Danny Arsenault/CBC

Trudeau was also asked about the Atlantic Treaty Organization and a replacement for Her Majesty's aging Prison. Again, Trudeau referred to discussions with Prime Minister Ball.

Their meeting began at 1:45 p.m. Trudeau is scheduled to leave for Toronto on Friday evening.

He flew in from Nova Scotia on Thursday evening, and the trip to St. John's is partly to raise funds as Canadians and politicians prepare to vote in the federal election in October.

Although he will speak to some provincial politicians, Natural Resources Minister Siobhan Coady has said she has “no plans at the moment” to discuss the ongoing Muskrat Falls saga – and any financial help from Ottawa – with the prime minister during his brief visit.

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