Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has vowed to help British Columbia rebuild after last week’s devastating floods and said it is time to ramp up the fight against climate change.
Trudeau was re-elected on September 20 for a third time, albeit with a second minority government that will need opposition support to pass legislation.
Work in the House of Commons, suspended since August, kicked off on Tuesday with a speech that Canada’s governor-general Mary May Simon delivered on the prime minister’s behalf.
“British Columbians are facing immeasurable challenges as their homes, their communities, and their well-being are impacted by terrible flooding,” Trudeau wrote in the speech, saying the government will continue to support them.
He added action to fight climate change “must go further, faster”.
Last week’s floods forced the closure of the Trans Mountain oil pipeline and cut two critical east-west rail lines.
The flooding – which left at least one person dead and more than 18,000 stranded – underscored the vulnerability of Canada’s supply chains to climate change, and looks set to be the costliest natural disaster to hit Canada.
The speech touched on many of the main themes of the election campaign, with Trudeau saying controlling COVID-19 remains his top priority.
Canada rolled out the recently approved vaccines for five-to-11-year-olds this week.
“The best thing we can do for the economy remains ending the pandemic for good,” Trudeau wrote.
The government spent tens of billions of dollars to help individuals and businesses during the pandemic, but is winding down that support except for COVID-19 hotspots.