Although his itinerary didn’t allow too much time for the general public, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took every opportunity Monday to shake hands, say hello and thank the many people who have worked during the 2017 wildfire crisis in and around Williams Lake.
Trudeau entered Rink 2 at Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex Monday morning and spoke directly to members of the Canadian Armed Forces, BC Wildfire Service, BC Sheriff Service, RCMP and Conservation Officer Service, thanking them for all their efforts to deal with several fires burning in the Cariboo Chilcotin region since July 7.
Flanked by the Minister of National Defence, Harjit Sajjan, the Minister of Sports and Persons with Disabilities and Chair of the Ad Hoc Cabinet Committee on Federal Recovery Efforts for 2017 BC Wildfires, Carla Qualtrough, the Minister of Justice, Jody Wilson-Raybould, and the new Premier of British Columbia, John Horgan, Trudeau, who brought his daughter Ella-Grace along, spent about a half hour speaking to the group before the meeting became an informal meet and greet.
While Trudeau was inside, crowds started to form on both sides of the ribboned off areas outside the CMRC, where they came to show their support for local fire fighting efforts and to catch a glimpse of Canada’s dashing PM, or even a selfie.
Teacher Mike Wilson said his was happy to see Trudeau in the lakecity.
“It’s very cool. It’s nice that he’s here and he’s coming at the right time,” Wilson said.
Trudeau left the arena out the front doors and said hello and shook hands with many locals before walking to the nearby Tsilhqot’in National Government, where he went inside for roughly a half hour.
After that, Trudeau made his way to the Cariboo Fire Centre located beside the airport where he met CFC staff and toured the facility, again shaking hands and granting selfies. Trudeau and his daughter then had lunch with some fire crews before boarding a Chinook helicopter for a tour of the fire zones.
When asked if Cariboo Chilcotin ranchers, forestry workers, First Nations and small business owners could expect any economic support in the wake of the devastating wildfires, Trudeau did not say exactly what support would be available but that B.C. could count on the federal government to help once the emergency was over.
“As the federal government has in the past, we will be here for B.C. We will be here for people affected by this - the concern is protecting life, protecting communities, first responders, emergency services of course we will do what is necessary to protect people now as partners to the provincial government as well as we will be there for the rebuild and be there for the challenges to come. This is a time for us to stand together and once again a time for the federal government to say we will be there for the days and months to come,” Trudeau said, standing beside Premier John Horgan.