The Prime Minister of Canada paid a visit to Portage la Prairie Wednesday afternoon to celebrate the launch of the campaign for Portage-Lisgar Liberal Candidate Kerry Smith.
Justin Trudeau arrived just before 1 p.m. It was a closed meeting with Liberal volunteers and Smith shares what it felt like.
"Normally, I am a worker on the sidelines," says Smith. "I am really dedicated to developing programs and services and unique opportunities for individuals to move ahead. This is a different side of the coin, but it's one where I can actually make even more of a change."
She notes she can put an influence on the programs and policies, as they're delivered and created, to Canadians, rather than doing so from the other side.
"So, this is a surreal feeling to be in this situation, and I absolutely love it."
The Prime Minister spent time chatting with supporters and taking selfies with them, but didn't make any formal speech.
John Fleury of the Manitoba Métis Federation, who is Minister of the ISET (Indigenous Skills and Employment Training) agreement with Canada, was in the line of greeters to meet the Prime Minister Trudeau.
"I was coming out to support Kerry Smith, who's our senior director in the department," says Fleury. "But, besides that, she's a wonderful human being and I know she'll be a great asset to the Liberal Party. For Justin Trudeau to come out here, with her launch of the office, it's so wonderful. What more could you ask for as a Liberal candidate starting her career in politics? Her life in the MMF has always been in a senior support role but now she's the leader. She's got the support staff behind her who's going to help her move Canada forward, Manitoba forward, and more importantly, the Portage-Lisgar area."
He says greeting the Prime Minister was a wonderful experience. He notes he met Trudeau when he was on the campaign trail.
"I actually had a heart attack a week before he came to Neepawa," adds Fleury. "I was invited to bring him in to greet the crowd, and I was very weak at the time, but I did meet him at that point of time. I did meet him on a couple of occasions since, but never to this extent, where you actually had some opportunity to chat a little bit and take a few photos."
Trudeau left the event and had lunch at Over the Coals just two doors down from the campaign office at 236 Saskatchewan Avenue East.
"For me, personally, it was a great thrill, actually," notes Fleury. "Last spring, we met the Pope. That's another level of excitement. This is another one, when the leader of your country is here shaking hands with the citizens of the community. What more could you ask for? That's a true leader."