To the Editor:
Dear Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, you probably won’t remember me.
Years ago, like almost thirty years now, you and your family used to come to my home town ski hills to enjoy the seclusion of the West Kootenay mountains and experience a kind of politeness almost nonexistent in the rest of your life. People who wouldn’t recognize, nor care if they did, your beautiful and auspicious family. People who respected your privacy and your childhood. One day while you were in Rossland, you and your security detail skied up behind me. You asked if I was “single,” the weird holler we do when we’re looking for a buddy on the lift. I said sure, and your guards following behind we ascended the chair together.
I remember you because we were basically the same age, and you liked to talk, and I liked to talk. I was raised by a staunch NDP family. In fact my grandparents helped found the party. My grandfather literally sat on Tommy’s knee in his own parents’ kitchen. So you started asking me if I knew much about politics and we had a huge conversation for a pair of young teens. I remember you and I agreed upon almost everything, which is why Liberals and NDP are often both confused as progressive parties. What people don’t understand is that ideology isn’t really the difference between these things. It’s power and position.
I’m a true working class British Columbia kid. I’m still the same guy. Now I’m an art and social studies teacher like you. Yeah, weird eh? The only difference between us is power and position.
When you ran for office, you promised me a bunch of things as a British Columbian. You said I could expect you to protect my environment. The environment we both grew up in, and in love with. You said you’d listen to the aboriginal people. You said you’d fix Bill C-51 but you haven’t yet. You said you’d give us the holy grail of BC desires, electoral reforms that would end the fact that by the time an election reaches BC our votes usually mean nothing. You promised to fix the First Past the Post system and make this election the last time our votes didn’t count.
Because you promised these things when campaign time came, I was a stalwart ally for you, even if I don’t support your party. I supported and walked, campaigning door to door for Wayne Stetski, the NDP MP for the recently gerrymandered Kootenay Columbia riding. Our riding has been broken by the Conservative electoral boundary commission and Nelson has for the first time in history been placed into the east Kootenays. We punched well above our weight out here and got over 80 per cent turnout to Cranbrook’s more average turnout. We pulled off a small victory over the incumbent Conservatives. But at the time, as we fought so hard, I and my friends reminded people of the need for anyone but Conservatives. We aided your campaign in the media by comments and sharing with people in ridings where Liberals were in close heat with Conservatives. Why? Because you promised us to do the things we wanted too. The difference between us seemed to be small, so we supported you.
So what happened? Why the change of heart? What happened to that good kid I rode up the chairlift with? I told everyone that you were a real person, with real actual values, ones I could see demonstrated by a 13- or 14- year-old boy, a humble young man, who even though raised by a father of great importance, was an earnest and decent person. I want to believe that you are still not so different from me, that the only difference is power and position. Please remember as those powerful oil executives lobby you to crack BC wide open for their expansions, that you represent real progress and not more colonization. Please remember that to win the next election you have to demonstrate integrity and honestly enact your promises. Please remember the boy who skied the Kootenays, because you are still that guy. The one who didn’t talk down to a working class buddy, but asked for a ride and wanted to learn about me, as much as I wanted to learn about you. From then to now, from teacher to teacher, feminist to feminist, father to father, progressive Canadian to progressive Canadian, I implore you to live up to your promise as a man, and to your promises as a politician.
Nelson, BC, Canada