As Prince George was gearing up to host the Canada Winter Games this year, there was widespread anticipation that Prime Minister Stephen Harper would be attending. After all, he’s attended every other Canada Games since he became Prime Minister: winter in Whitehorse and Halifax, and summer in Summerside/Charlottetown and Sherbrooke.
But no, despite making a trip to southern British Columbia for Lunar New Year and an LNG announcement, Harper couldn’t make time for the one-hour flight north to drop in on the Games in Prince George. This is keeping with an old tradition of Prime Ministers not visiting the city.1
I decided to ask the Prime Minister’s Office why Harper wasn’t able to make the trip. After calling the media line, I was asked to email my request, which I have cut-and-paste below.
“There are a number of questions being asked about Mr. Harper and the Canada Winter Games in Prince George that I hope you can address:
Why was Stephen Harper not a part of the opening ceremonies of the Canada Winter Games in Prince George?
Why was Mr. Harper not at the Games despite attending the opening of all previous Canada Games during his tenure as Prime Minister?
Why is Mr. Harper able to attend Lunar New Year events in the Lower Mainland but not make a visit to Prince George during the Games?
Why has Mr. Harper not visited Prince George during his tenure as Prime Minister despite strong support for the Conservative Party in the region and its proximity to his home riding of Calgary (a one hour direct flight)?
Are there plans in place for Mr. Harper to visit Prince George or any part of northern British Columbia in the coming months?
Why has the Governor General not been a part of the Games, also breaking with tradition?2
Will the Governor General be a part of the closing ceremonies of the Canada Winter Games?”
This was sent to Pierre-Luc Jean in the PMO. He added his colleague Carl Vallée to the chain, and Vallée sent me this response:
“Our government was represented at the Canada Winter Games by its Minister of Sport Bal Gosal.
“As for your question on the PM’s presence in your region, during this mandate, the PM has in fact been in Northern BC: both in Fort St John and Dawson Creek.
“As you are no doubt aware, Dawson Creek and Fort St John are some distance away from Prince George.
“I would also appreciate an answer as to why Prince George is the first host city of the Canada Games the PM has not visited.
This was seven days ago. I have yet to receive further correspondence.3
As best I can tell, Trudeau is the last one to do so while still in office. ↩
The Governor General will, in fact, be a part of the closing ceremonies, but I never received an answer about that from the PMO. It came out later as part of a general release. ↩
Several people have commented that while the title of this says “this is why” it doesn’t actually answer the question. I’m aware of that. It’s an ironic title, since I very clearly asked the PMO for an answer and was given a classic political non-answer. By the way, politicians give non-answers all the time. ↩
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