OTTAWA (Originally published Jan 6 2017)
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, facing negative headlines over party fund raising and his winter holiday, on Friday pulled out of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in favor of meeting ordinary citizens.
Trudeau, who never misses a chance to sell Canada as a destination for foreign investment, had planned to attend the annual mid-January meeting of billionaires, investors, celebrities and politicians.
Trudeau spokesman Cameron Ahmad said the prime minister would instead hold a series of town halls to ensure he stayed connected to Canadians.
"This tour will provide many great opportunities to engage directly with Canadians, and will now be taking place over a longer period than previously planned," he said by e-mail.
Toward the end of last year, Trudeau was dogged by accusations that rich donors to his Liberal Party gained privileged access.
Some Canadian commentators this week complained that Trudeau and his family had quietly taken a Caribbean vacation. His office only revealed the location after media pressure.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is also steering clear of the Davos meeting, which is expected to be dominated by debate over the looming presidency of Donald Trump and rising public anger with elites and globalization.
"The forum is a prime opportunity to highlight Canada's strength as a place to invest, grow, and establish new business opportunities – and our ministers will be doing that work," said Ahmad.
(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Nick Zieminski)