Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says British Columbia will play an important role in the federal election. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Trudeau says British Columbians really ‘get it,’ amid conservative wave

VANCOUVER — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says British Columbia will play an important role in the upcoming federal race as a province led by a progressive government when so many others have swung to the right.

Trudeau told a crowd of supporters at a Liberal fundraiser in Monday night that conservative politicians have been elected to provincial legislatures from the Rockies to the Bay of Fundy on plans to do less for the environment and roll back progressive initiatives.

“In provincial capitals across the country, there are steps backward. This is going to be a really, really important election, my friends,” he said.

British Columbians understand the importance of investing in the environment in order to grow the economy and recognize the opportunities involved in partnering with Indigenous communities in the spirit of true reconciliation, he said.

“Here in B.C. you really matter, you’re a province of people who get it,” he said.

British Columbia is led by a New Democrat government under Premier John Horgan but Trudeau made no mention of his New Democrat challengers at the federal level.

Conservative governments have been elected in several provinces since the Liberals took power in Ottawa, including Ontario’s Progressive Conservatives under Doug Ford last year and Alberta’s United Conservatives under Jason Kenney in April.

Tickets for the fundraiser at the University of British Columbia were $1,500 a piece or $750 for those under 35.

Trudeau also committed not to run a campaign of wedge politics that scares voters into feeling negative emotions. Negative campaigns are effective, but if you are elected on one, you put yourself in a difficult position of governing a country divided against itself, he said.

“We refused to do that last time and we’re going to refuse to do that this time,” he said.

Earlier in the day, Trudeau marked the completion of renovations at the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station.

He praised the efforts of Canadian Coast Guard crews who responded to the tragic plane crash that claimed four lives off British Columbia’s coast, telling a crowd his thoughts are with those involved in the crash, their families and their friends.

“And to the members of the coast guard who were on the scene: thank you. When Canadians need help they know they can look to you. Whether here on the west coast or in the St. Lawrence or out east, every day members of the Canadian Coast Guard do vital, life-saving work.”

The Kitsilano coast guard base was shut down by the former Conservative government in 2013, then reopened shortly after the Liberal government took power in 2015.

The Canadian Coast Guard and the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Service responded to the crash of the float plane Friday on a remote and uninhabited island off B.C.’s central coast.

Crews found four people dead and five others injured in the steep and forested terrain.

Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, also the thanked rescuers at the event.

“This has obviously been a terrible tragedy. Our thoughts are with those involved and with their families, their friends and their communities.”

The Transportation Safety Board sent a crew to investigate on the remote island, about 100 kilometres north of Vancouver Island.

The BC Coroners Service said in a statement that it will also investigate to determine if there are ways to prevent deaths in similar circumstances.

The recovery of the bodies is complete and they are being transported to confirm identification, it said.

The service said it will not be releasing the identity of any of those killed.

Early Monday evening, Trudeau made a stop on Davie Street to shake hands and take photos under rainbow flags at the Fountainhead Pub.

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