Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is set to meet with Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson this morning, but their once-rosy relationship has been threatened by the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
Trudeau’s government approved the $7.4-billion expansion last November despite Robertson’s staunch opposition to the project, which would see a seven-fold increase in the number of tankers in Vancouver-area waters.
Robertson and Trudeau have long had a friendly rapport, but the mayor has said he was “profoundly disappointed” by the decision, calling it a “big step backwards” for Canada’s environment and economy.
The opioid epidemic that has claimed hundreds of lives in Vancouver is also likely to be high on the agenda for the meeting, as is the city’s affordable-housing crisis.
Trudeau took a helicopter tour yesterday of the damage caused by fast-moving wildfires in British Columbia’s Interior and thanked the crews who have fought to the edge of exhaustion to keep people and buildings safe.
VIDEO: Justin Trudeau takes helicopter tour of wildfire damage
He later spoke at a $1,000-a-plate Liberal fundraiser in Surrey, where he urged the crowd of about 250 people to donate to the Canadian Red Cross to help people displaced by wildfires.
The Liberals have faced criticism over expensive fundraisers attended by the prime minister, but the party says it’s increased transparency by requiring the events to be posted publicly three days in advance and providing guest lists no more than 45 days afterward.
Inside the banquet hall last night, Trudeau urged supporters to help the Liberals get re-elected in 2019. Canada needs to keep going in the same direction, he said, “at a time when the world is turning toward the politics of division, populism and fear.”
“Canada’s showing there’s a different way to govern, a different way to operate – a place grounded in reason and bringing out the best in our neighbours instead of fighting against the worst,” he said.
All around the world, people are anxious about themselves, their children and their communities, he said.
“Politicians always have a choice. You can either draw on those anxieties and fear and try and play off of them and win because of them … or instead we can pull together and give ourselves the tools as a society to meet those challenges head on.”
The speech drew loud applause from the primarily South Asian audience.
Trudeau also urged the crowd to remember that “we’ve got some competition,” as the Conservatives have chosen a new leader, Andrew Scheer, and the New Democrats will have a new leader by the end of the year.
“Their supporters aren’t waiting until next year to make a donation or volunteer their time. They’re doing it now, and we need to be doing that work right now, too.”