Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met B.C. Premier John Horgan for the first time Tuesday, and the two leaders say they used the introductory meeting to concentrate on issues on which they agree and can work together.
Those issues included helping victims of the ongoing wildfires, the opioid crisis, the softwood lumber dispute with the U.S. and affordable housing, the two leaders told reporters in Ottawa.
WATCH: Trudeau, Horgan focus meeting on opioid crisis, softwood lumber
They are, for now, avoiding a showdown on a major issue on which they profoundly disagree: the $7.4-billion expansion of Kinder Morgan’s TransMountain pipeline. Trudeau’s government has approved the project but Horgan’s NDP government has vowed to use every legal tool available to block it.
Horgan also seemed to avoid the question, adding that their meeting focused on the wildfires, the opioid crisis, and the softwood lumber dispute.
“For today our focus is on making sure we’re helping those who need help and building on the relationship that we need to have on those critical issues about helping the middle class and making life more affordable for British Columbians,” he said.
Horgan was sworn into office late last month after an unprecedented photo-finish election that saw former premier Christy Clark’s short-lived minority Liberal government defeated and Horgan take over with the backing of the Green party.
The two leaders had also sidestepped the issue of pipelines in official communications before their meeting.
But there is little time for Horgan to waste if he wants to stop the project as pipeline-builder Kinder Morgan said just last week construction is on schedule to begin in September.
Following Horgan’s Ottawa trip, he will fly on to Washington, D.C., for meetings with U.S. lawmakers and officials about the softwood lumber dispute.
With files from Gord McDonald