Pete McMartin: Get out here Prime Minister Trudeau and do your job


Opinion: B.C. and the people suffering here await Prime Minister Trudeau.

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I have a question.


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It’s one I have been asking myself since Mother Nature — whose name should now be amended to a slightly longer and more profane version, one that can’t be reprinted here — turned the Fraser Valley into a swimming pool, claimed the lives of innocent and unsuspecting people just trying to get home, and destroyed the livelihoods and homes of thousands. And, oh yes, cut B.C. off from the rest of Canada and disrupted the province’s food, gas and industrial supply chains.

The question is this: Where in hell is Prime Minister Justin Trudeau?

Oh, sure, I know — the guy’s got a busy schedule. Jam-packed calendar. Previous commitments. Like the whole Three Amigos thing. Absolutely had to make that pilgrimage to Washington, D.C., in order to genuflect in Joe Biden’s house. Very important matters to attend to there that he absolutely had to give his full attention to, like that crucial matter about the U.S. tax credit for made-in-America EV cars, which surely was on the mind of every British Columbian, including those busy treading water at the time.


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And then there was the throne speech to attend to on Tuesday.

It’s a big deal, after all. I mean, it’s the throne. You can’t just walk away from the throne speech because, well, not sure why exactly … it’s got something to do with England. Still. Tradition. Matters of state. And Trudeau absolutely had to be there to listen to the throne speech because, as prime minister, he doesn’t give the throne speech: He presides over it. Presiding is a very important job. Crucial he be there.

The throne speech is actually given by the person occupying the anachronistic office of governor-general — again, something to do with England — but one can only imagine how hard Trudeau must have worked instructing his speechwriters to come up with something that was both immediately forgettable to the electorate while clearly threatening to the Opposition. The governor-general this time was Mary Simon, a former broadcaster and career civil servant whose best attribute for being governor-general — aside from being the first Inuit and Indigenous person to hold the job — may be that she’s a good bet to be less troublesome than the former governor-general, Julie Payette.


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Anyway, in her speech, such as it was, Simon delivered these undeniably accurate and laughably obvious words — at least, obvious to British Columbians.

“Our Earth is in danger. From a warming Arctic to the increasing devastation of natural disasters, our land and our people need help. We must move talk into action and adapt where we must.”

And how true those words are, though we must assume that cataloguing all the natural disasters that have beset B.C. this year — the heat dome that killed over 500, the record forest fires that obliterated an entire town and left hundreds homeless, the aforementioned flooding the effects of which will reverberate for years — would just have taken up too much room in the speech. But, you know, “the warming Arctic.” Those poor polar bears.


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And yes, Simon is correct in stating that people need help.

Well, British Columbians, in particular, need help. Gas rationing, in a fashion, has begun. Grocery store shelves are emptying out in the Interior, and shortages, to some extent, are being seen in the Lower Mainland, too. (Of the three grocery stores in my neighbourhood, all but one had sold out of ground beef by Monday.)

These shortages will be temporary, but greater, structural problems will persist for years. The mountain highways and train corridors will not only have to be cleared and repaired, but will need to be rethought and rebuilt in a way to withstand future catastrophic climatic events. Dikes will have to be raised and reinforced. Soil decontamination and remediation will have to be done. Farmers will need help restocking the animals they lost in the flooding, and homeowners will need compensation to rebuild and get back on their feet.


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And one more thing, to cite the throne speech again:

We must certainly move talk into action.

Here’s a suggestion where we might start:

How about the PM get his arse out here and start acting like a leader, one whose compassion for the people he purports to lead compels him to abandon Ottawa for just a couple of days, get his feet on the ground here — that is, if doesn’t mind getting them wet — and come see the people who not only desperately need his government’s help and attention, but also need, too, the assurance that he, personally, cares enough about them that he feels he must get on a plane (since driving or taking a train here is out of the question) and talk to them in person? It’s what a real leader would do, if just out of a sense of decency.

B.C. and the people suffering here await, prime minister.

Do your job.



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