CANADA: Premier John Horgan says he and Justin Trudeau are “besties,” but that didn’t stop him for applying some pressure on the prime minister Thursday to squeeze more money out of Ottawa for British Columbia.
Horgan specifically wants the federal government to help cover some of the costs of last summer’s unprecedented wildfire season.
“It was a bit of a love-in, I have to say,” Horgan said of his earlier meeting with Trudeau as he spoke to lunch crowd of about 200 hosted by the Urban Development Institute.
“But after the cameras were off and the doors were closed, I spoke candidly to the prime minister and said, ‘You know, we can keep going like this, but you’re going to have to start showing up with a bit of cash.’ He chuckled a little bit and I said, ‘No, I’m serious. You have to start showing up with a bit of cash.'”
Worst wildfire season on record
Last summer’s fires scorched more than 12,000 square kilometres of land and forced about 65,000 people from their homes. The fires destroyed 509 structures across the province, including 229 homes.
The price tag to date for both fire suppression and recovery is about $750 million, and the federal government needs to make good on the commitments it made during the summer to pitch in on costs, Horgan said.
“There are families in the Interior that have a very bleak winter ahead of them and an even bleaker spring. And that’s going to need more investment from the province, more investment from the provincial government.”
Horgan later told reporters he also raised B.C.’s concerns about Kinder Morgan’s proposed $7.4-billion Trans Mountain pipeline project, which would triple the capacity of a pre-existing line between Edmonton and the Vancouver area and increase tanker traffic in the Burrard Inlet seven-fold.
“I reiterated our position and the prime minister acknowledged that and reiterated his position,” Horgan said. The province was in court earlier this year opposing the National Energy Board’s decision to approve the project.
The two leaders also discussed child care, housing affordability and environmental stewardship, Horgan added.
PM in B.C. for 2 days
Trudeau has spent two days in B.C. on his return trip from Manila where he attended a summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
On Thursday, he and his wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, announced Vancouver as the location for Women Deliver 2019, a major conference on gender equality that is expected to attract 6,000 delegates from more than 160 countries.
“Gender equality is everyone’s business,” Trudeau said during his announcement. “It’s on all of us to make equality our reality.”