Don’s Tyee OpEd: Trudeau Liberals Failing to Stand Up for British Columbia

British Columbians can be forgiven if they were confused this week by Liberal MP Dr. Hedy Fry’s comments decrying the lack of action from the federal Liberal government on the fentanyl crisis.

As a member of that government, the senior B.C. Liberal MP and the former health critic, one would expect her to be delivering results for our province, not pointing out her own government’s failure.

And failure it is.

Fry rightly raises concerns over the unacceptable delay and lack of federal action on the fentanyl crisis gripping our communities. It is a legitimate question to ask if the Trudeau government would display the same indifference to hundreds of deaths from opioids if they were happening in central Canada.

It is unquestionable that the tragic and largely preventable deaths of those struggling with addiction deserve urgent attention and effective action. But it is Fry and her Liberal government who should be answering for this inaction.

Despite 38 recommendations from the parliamentary health committee and repeated requests to declare a national health emergency, the Trudeau government delayed more than a year before introducing legislation to make it easier to open safe consumption sites. Its refusal to act swiftly and comprehensively is costing lives.

But by now, British Columbians should not be surprised by this.

This is just one more example of a growing pattern of Liberal MPs failing to stand up for the interests of B.C. in Ottawa.

Witness the Liberal MPs who were unable to defend our coast in advance of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline approval. During the election campaign last year local Liberal candidates, many now MPs, explicitly promised voters that this review would be “re-done” and not approved under Stephen Harper’s broken Environmental Assessment Regime. Yet, Kinder Morgan was approved under those exact conditions. As a result, bitumen-laden tankers will soon be sailing the Burrard Inlet and the Salish Sea at seven times the rate they do now.

This same pattern surfaced with the Site C dam approval last year. This decision directly contradicted the clear position taken by federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould when she was B.C. regional chief of the Assembly of First Nations. Wilson-Raybould publicly criticized Site C for flouting Indigenous rights.

Ironically, Justice Minister Wilson-Raybould is now signing and approving budgets for justice department lawyers to fight those same First Nations communities in court over Site C.

With barely a year under their belts, B.C.’s Liberal MPs are establishing a poor record when it comes to delivering on their campaign promises. Saying one thing in British Columbia and acting otherwise in Ottawa is unacceptable. Fry’s criticism this week is another example in a growing, troubling list of MPs trying to mask ineffectiveness with expressions of concern.

If elected representatives can’t, or won’t, stand up for their promises or constituents — and if they can’t influence the government they are a part of — what exactly are they there for?

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