SURF’S UP: PM spends Canada’s first Truth and Reconciliation Day on vacation

CANFORCE 1 departed Ottawa for regular Trudeau surfing spot in Tofino, B.C. early Thursday morning

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On Canada’s first day honouring lives both lost and destroyed through our country’s detestable treatment of our Indigenous peoples, the Prime Minister spent much of Thursday jetting off to the left coast.

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Shortly after 8 a.m. Eastern time, a Canadian Forces Challenger 604 departed Ottawa International Airport on a northwesterly course away from our nation’s capital.

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Its callsign — CANFORCE 1 — indicated Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was among those aboard the sleek, 10-seater business jet — despite the PMO’s public itinerary listing his activities for the day as ‘private meetings’ in Ottawa.

As the day progressed, so did the aircraft — eventually touching down at Tofino Long Beach Airport, a favourite vacation and surfing spot for the Trudeaus.

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The impromptu vacation was confirmed by the PMO.

“The Prime Minister is spending time in Tofino with family for a few days,” PMO Press Secretary Alex Wellstead wrote in an email to the Sun.

“Following his participation in last night’s ceremony marking the first National Day for Truth & Reconciliation, he is speaking today with residential school survivors from across the country.”

In April 2019, locals snapped photos of the wetsuit-clad Prime Minister surfing Tofino’s famous waves.

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In 2016, a wedding photographer snapped a shot of a shirtless Trudeau crashing a wedding along the same beach.

Reaction to Trudeau’s apparent snub of National Truth and Reconciliation Day came swiftly.

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Tk’emlúps te Secwepemc, the First Nations community near Kamloops, B.C. where the bodies of as many 200 children were found buried outside of a residential school, tweeted they’d extended two ‘heartfelt’ invitations for the Prime Minister to commemorate the day with survivors and their families.

Opposition parties also took a dim view of the PM’s vacation timing.

“Truth and Reconciliation Day shouldn’t be treated like a holiday — but that’s what Justin Trudeau did,” Conservative Party of Canada spokesperson Chelsea Tucker told the Sun.

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“This is the pattern Canadians have come to know with Justin Trudeau. He says nice things about reconciliation but never follows through.”

“As Prime Minister, Erin O’Toole will always mark this day with the respect and dignity it deserves.”

Indigenous policy analyst Melissa Mbarki told the Sun that Trudeau’s decision to spend Thursday on vacation will just deepen rifts between him and Canada’s Indigenous community.

“Last night when he was on CBC and they were having the ceremony, for a brief second I thought, ‘why are they doing this the night before?’” she said. “Then when you see he actually went on vacation today, that was a punch in the gut.”

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Mbarki described the Prime Minister’s actions as deeply disrespectful to Canada’s First Nations, and she believes this could seriously set back reconciliation efforts.

“We expect more from our leaders, and I think Canadians expect more than this selfish behavior,” she said.

“The day started off really good, we were bringing awareness, we could see the events happening across the country, it was just one of those days where we felt like we were making progress.

“And then you realize he was on vacation.”

bpassifiume@postmedia.com
On Twitter: @bryanpassifiume

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