A Letter to Prime Minister Trudeau
- Wednesday, 21 June 2017 04:27
June 19, 2017
Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,
My name is Julien Bahain. I am a three time Olympian and Olympic medalist in rowing. I had the honor to represent my father’s country, France, in Beijing and London, and in 2016, the privilege to represent my mother’s country, Canada, in Rio de Janeiro. Before I moved to Canada, I challenged myself and decided to row the Atlantic Ocean. In February 2013, I successfully reached Martinique after 49 days at sea. It was an incredible adventure and probably the hardest I have undertaken.
Last fall, as a Canadian Olympian, I was pleased and honored to meet you in person in Ottawa. As we shook hands in the House of Commons, you said to me: “Canada is proud of you. I am proud of you.” I could not have been prouder on that day. Thank you.
I am not writing to you today as an athlete. I am writing to you as a citizen of Canada and as a father of a one-year-old born and raised in Canada. When my wife and I moved to the West Coast from Europe in 2014, we did not really know what to expect. Everyone said it was beautiful, but what we found was beyond what we could imagine. After Rio 2016, I decided to retire from Olympic rowing, and we decided as a family to stay in British Columbia. We bought a house on a small island called Piers Island. I get to go to work by boat. We see whales and seals from our garden. This is why we stayed and decided to raise our family here. I can say that I am proud to be Canadian and have the luxury to live in such a preserved and unique place on planet Earth. We found home.
Your government and the government of British Columbia are supporting and moving forward with the Steelhead LNG project in the Saanich Inlet. I am not going to make a long list of why this should not happen, why it is dangerous for the people or for the environment. Why I prefer to see whales from my window rather than 1000-foot long LNG tanker. I believe that you have already seen the pros and cons of such a project. What I am going to say is that I still want to be a proud Canadian and if your words in November meant something, I still want Canada to be proud of me for speaking up and protecting its values, its beauty, its land and its oceans. I have seen our impact on the ocean when at sea for almost 50 days. Garbage, plastic, tankers, oil spill,... . It is easy to ignore when we do not see it.
I am an engineer. I believe in technology, in progress, in innovation. I believe that our country needs to grow, to develop and to find new opportunities. But I also believe in the future. In a future where my children and grandchildren can benefit from a country that once stood up and said “We are proud of our mountains. We are proud of our lakes. We are proud of our oceans. We are proud of our forests. We are proud to be Canadian.”
Prime Minister Trudeau, you have the ability to steer our destiny. You can decide whether this LNG pipeline and those tankers are the future we want for the West Coast or if we find other options in harmony with who we are and where we live.
So please, let us be true to ourselves. I trust I will always be able to tell you “Canada is proud of you. I am proud of you.”