Photo by Chung Chow
PENTICTON, B.C. — Justin Trudeau celebrated the B.C. Day holiday Monday at a summer picnic in a park with about 3,000 people in Penticton, of whom many wanted to pose for a selfie with the prime minister, while others held placards opposed to the Trans Mountain pipeline.
Trudeau said the provincial holiday is a time to celebrate what brings Canada together, which includes the ability and willingness to listen to others and tolerate their views.
The prime minister has been in British Columbia for the past several days where he attended the Vancouver Pride Parade, visited a farmer's market on Vancouver Island and toured Richmond Night Market, before arriving Monday in the Okanagan.
He was accompanied by his wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, on the bandshell stage at Gyro Park with local politicians, including Penticton Mayor Andrew Jakubeit, local B.C. member of the legislature Dan Ashton and Richard Cannings, South Okanagan-West Kootenay New Democrat MP.
"Richard and I disagree on some things, but we agree on a lot of things as well," Trudeau told the crowd. "One of the things we agree on very much is how politics needs to be done, which is in openness, in respect, in listening and focused always on bringing people together."
He said that openness and respect marks the spirit of B.C. Day.
"That's what gathers us here today," said Trudeau. "This isn't a political speech. This is a moment for us to gather and really remember that all the views, all the different perspectives out there come together in one deep conviction that we are working together to build stronger communities, a stronger B.C. and a stronger country."
But he has been met on his B.C. trip with people protesting the Liberal government's decision to buy the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline.
In May, the government announced its decision to buy the pipeline between Alberta and the B.C. coast as well as related infrastructure for $4.5 billion. The government could also spend billions more to build the controversial pipeline expansion.
Trudeau said Saturday in Duncan, B.C., the project is going ahead. He said it represents Canada's aspirations to build a strong economy and protect the environment.
Penticton resident Cheryl Calderbank said she wanted to come to the event to observe Penticton's response to Trudeau. She said prior to the event, there were social media posts in Penticton that Trudeau would get a rough reception over his government's pipeline stance.
"My belief is no matter what people think, no matter what everybody's political opinion, he's still our prime minister and he needs to be treated with respect," she said. "And it's B.C. Day, we need to celebrate."
Trudeau visited Granny's Fruit Stand early Monday in nearby Summerland, where he bought local nectarines and berry syrup.
He did not comment on Sunday's news that Saudi Arabia would expel Canada's ambassador and freeze new trade deals.