Trudeau ad­dresses forest-fire prob­lems

Ac­knowl­edges Indige­nous gap on visit to B.C.

Calgary Herald - - CANADA - Laura Kane

• Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau says the fed­eral gov­ern­ment needs to do a bet­ter job mak­ing sure First Na­tions have what they need to fight forest fires.

Trudeau ac­knowl­edged the gaps Thurs­day in re­sources for mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, which work with the prov­ince on wild­fires, and First Na­tions, which fall un­der fed­eral re­spon­si­bil­ity.

“Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties get re­sources from prov­inces, but when the neigh­bour­ing Indige­nous com­mu­nity turns to the prov­ince: ‘Well, we need re­sources.’ ‘Well, you are a fed­eral re­spon­si­bil­ity.’ We have to clear up those lines of flow­ing re­sources and en­sur­ing people get what they need, re­gard­less of whether they are in an Indige­nous com­mu­nity or a non-Indige­nous com­mu­nity,” he said.

He said things have im­proved since dev­as­tat­ing wild­fires in B.C. last year, but more work needs to be done to en­sure ev­ery­one is equally pro­tected.

“We need to make sure people are safe and that homes and liveli­hoods are pro­tected. That’s some­thing that we are very much work­ing on and we will con­tinue to. We made sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ments, but ... there’s still lots more to do.”

Trudeau left the fed­eral cab­i­net meet­ing in Nanaimo on Van­cou­ver Is­land to travel to Prince George in cen­tral Bri­tish Columbia to meet with those work­ing to con­trol some of the 563 wild­fires that have charred more than 6,000 square kilo­me­tres of the prov­ince. He met with fire pro­tec­tion of­fi­cer Tom Rein­boldt, Mayor Lyn Hall and lo­cal leg­is­la­ture mem­ber John Rus­tad, among oth­ers, in a boardroom at the lo­cal fire cen­tre.

“Thank you for mak­ing it pos­si­ble for me to come this morn­ing. I ab­so­lutely didn’t want to dis­rupt any­thing, but I wanted to be able to thank ev­ery­one for the work they’re do­ing, and see and make sure ev­ery­one’s col­lab­o­rat­ing well, as I know they are,” Trudeau said.

He has tasked sev­eral mem­bers of the fed­eral cab­i­net with co-or­di­nat­ing sup­port, re­cov­ery and re­build­ing ef­forts as the fed­eral and B.C. gov­ern­ments work to­gether to as­sist those af­fected by the fires.

The wild­fire dan­ger map posted by the BC Wild­fire Ser­vice showed a dan­ger rat­ing of ex­treme or high across most of the prov­ince and thou­sands were on evac­u­a­tion alert or have al­ready fled their homes.

But cooler weather and pos­si­ble show­ers were in the fore­cast, al­though of­fi­cials warn there is a dan­ger of light­ning along with the rain.

Other fires around the prov­ince prompted evac­u­a­tion or­ders Wed­nes­day, and dense smoke from the fires con­tin­ued to prompt air qual­ity alerts across most of B.C. In Prince George, a hazy grey hung in the sky.

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