Justin Trudeau has deep connection with Kootenays

Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada stops in Cranbrook during his summer vacation

Justin Trudeau

Justin Trudeau

The leader of the Liberal Party of Canada made a stop in Cranbrook Sunday, July 21, turning Rotary Park into the local political event of the season.

It was less about politics, however, than it was about a summer vacation for Justin Trudeau and his family, in a part of the world that in his own words is very dear to him and his family.

Trudeau got off a large RV Sunday afternoon to be greeted by Cranbrook Mayor Wayne Stetski, Cranbrook’s youth ambassadors Makenzie Yates and Alicia Leasak and an enthusiastic crowd of more than 150 people. The event was billed as a meet and greet, and Trudeau graciously waded into the crowd, signing autographs, getting his photo taken — meeting and greeting — before heading over to the bandstand for a quick speech. Trudeau was accompanied by his son Xavier, 6, and daughter Ella Grace, 4. His wife Sophie was feeling under the weather, Trudeau said, and wouldn’t be joining this particular event. His kids were happy to have a stopover in a park.

After the event, before heading off to Nelson, Trudeau told the Daily Townsman of the emotional connection he and his family have with the Kootenays.

“This place is extraordinarily special to me,” he said.  “It’s the place my brother chose to live his life. We didn’t know he’d leave us at 23, but everytime I come back here I feel close to him. I’ll be in Nelson (Sunday night), and hopefully up to visit him at the lake tomorrow.”

Justin’s youngest brother Michel died in November, 1998, when he was swept by an avalanche into Kokanee Lake in Kokanee Glacier Park. Michel was never recovered from the lake.

“I’m just overwhelmed by the strength of spirit of the people who live here,” Trudeau said. “The friendliness, the welcoming, just the strength of community around here, and how they came together to support my family after we lost our brother.

“But also, in the following years, as I was more and more active with avalanche safety, I got to meet a whole bunch of people who were driven by the same love for mountains and strength of community leaning on each other.”

Trudeau was introduced at the bandstand by Mayor Stetski, who told how he had  met Justin Trudeau and the Trudeau family 13 years ago, working together on the Kokanee Glacier Alpine campaign in honour of Michel Trudeau, in order to build a new public cabin in Kokanee Glacier Park. With the help of the Trudeau family and others, more than $1 million was raised in this campaign.

That cabin was built 10 years ago.

Trudeau told the crowd that it’s always good to return to the Kootenays.

“I’ve spent many years out here, travelling, skiing, making friends, meeting friends … My first experience in the Kootenays was paddling down the Kootenay River with my Dad (Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau), my brothers and John Gow, who taught us how to paddle in the Rockies. That was 25-30 years ago. To me this part of the world remains an extremely important part of my life.”

There was, of course, some talk of politics.

“This is an opportunity for me to connect with people — not necessarily to talk about Politics with a Big P, but to talk about the challenges we’re facing altogether, and how we’re best going to solve them.”

Trudeau said he couldn’t be in Cranbrook without giving a shout-out to Scott Niedermayer, “who’s been extraordinary over the past while with his activism. Scott is one of those people who’s always focussed on doing the right thing and winning the right way as part of a team, and I’m touched to be in his hometown today.

“That kind of activism that he’s engaged in now, that all of us are engaged in now, comes easy to us. We surround ourselves with beautiful places that we want to protect, we see our kids growing up and we want to make a better world for them.

“So why has politics itself become such a dirty word. Why are we always ready to work together to build a better community and a better world, but as soon as it comes to thinking about politicians and public service that way, we turn away?

“It’s because over the past years politics has become and incredible source of cynicism. Because it’s always easier in politics to divide, to attack, to go negative, to calculate where the most votes are and play to them and ignore anyone who’s not likely to vote for you.

“You can actually get elected with a majority through the politics of division. It becomes very difficult to govern responsibly for the whole of the country and for the longterm interest that we hold, once you’ve got in the habit of division and attacks and negativity. That’s very much what I’m trying to turn around.”

Before getting back on the RV to head west, Trudeau told the Townsman the trip is about connecting about people and doing a little bit of politicking, “but it’s also about showing my kids an extraordinary part of the world. Its about convincing the folks in Ottawa that, yes, it’s a good idea to let me drive a big honking RV through the Kootenays. And I’m absolutely loving it — this is what summers are supposed to be all about. Parks and barbecues and smiles — if I can use that to get politics a little more purchase with people in their everyday lives, then that’s what it needs to be.”

Just Posted

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interior Health COVID-19 cases falling slower than the rest of B.C.

More than a third of provincial cases announced Thursday came from the Interior

Students at Creston Valley Secondary School put together an art installation of a replica residential school room. (Photo by Kelsey Yates)
Creston students create art installation of residential school room

The replica was decorated with a small bed, school uniform, and notes written with pleas for help

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Second dose vaccinations accelerating throughout region: Interior Health

To date, more than 675,000 doses have been administered throughout the region

It happened this week in 1914

June 13 - 19: Compiled by Dave Humphrey from the archived newspapers… Continue reading

Cranbrook Arts has opened the doors of their  new gallery space to the public with their inaugural exhibit, Kootenay’s Best.
‘Kootenay’s Best’ opens Cranbrook Arts’ new gallery

This exhibit has been in the works for the past several months and features the work of more than 50 emerging and established artists from across the Kootenays

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

Most Read