Dear Premier Horgan,
British Columbians have been ravaged by some of the worst wildfires in our province’s history. People have lost their property and livelihoods, and entire communities like Lytton and Monte Lake have been destroyed. In this moment of crisis, people need to know that our leaders have their backs. And, disappointingly, you have been missing in action.
Thousands of people have been impacted by evacuation orders and alerts. In the Thompson Nicola Regional District alone, 9 out of 10 municipalities – including Kamloops, Merritt, Chase, Sun Peaks, Barriere, Clinton, Cache Creek, Ashcroft, and Lytton have been impacted by orders and alerts. Countless other communities in the region have been impacted as well – including 100 Mile House, Sicamous, Spalumcheen, West Kelowna and the southern Okanagan – and all areas in between.
You abandoned British Columbia in a moment of crisis.
For weeks, you refused to call a state of emergency even though communities in the impacted regions were asking for that support. And you’ve just informed us that you’ve been silent because you’re on vacation. While I don’t generally criticize our leaders for going on vacation, I do have an issue with doing so in the midst of such a major crisis where entire towns have burned to the ground.
Communities do not have the capacity to take in more evacuees. Many are being told to drive long distances to access accommodation or simply sleep in their cars. On top of that, major highways in and out of the Interior are closed, communications and alert systems have been crashing, and smoke is literally choking those who have had to endure some of the worst air quality in the world for weeks on end. That’s not good enough.
Rather than coming out to reassure British Columbians as we battle these wildfires, you have been silent. Except for the time your party condescendingly tweeted, “Wildfire season is scary, and that’s ok.” How disappointingly tone deaf.
This was a test of leadership — and you have failed.
The role of the government is to support those who need help — and, right now, hundreds of thousands of British Columbians need this government to take action and provide all the resources that we need to fight these wildfires. We need to support our frontline firefighters with more reinforcements, our communities with emergency facilities to house evacuees, and instill confidence in those still on the ground that help is on the way.
Premier, I implore you to support British Columbians by providing communities with much-needed resources to protect us from more loss of life and allow us to salvage the homes and towns that remain.
That’s what leaders do.
BC Liberal Leadership Candidate