Trudeau Thanks Rona Ambrose For Leadership During Fort McMurray Crisis

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau thanked interim Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose Wednesday for the "extraordinary leadership" she's shown on behalf of the people of Fort McMurray, Alta.

And in a rare moment of non-partisan unity in the House of Commons, many Liberal MPs and other party members also rose to their feet to salute her.

Ambrose visited her home province this week to survey the damage of the devastating wildfires that displaced more than 80,000 people. Trudeau has announced that he will do the same on Friday.

justin trudeau
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government applaud interim Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on May 11, 2016. (Photo: Sean Kilpatrick/CP)

While in Alberta, the veteran Tory MP told reporters that she was "not going to be critical of the prime minister" for not visiting earlier, adding that she was sure he had his reasons. Last week, Trudeau said it would not be "helpful" for a prime minister to show up in the community while firefighters were still trying to contain the blaze.

During question period, Ambrose conveyed a "deep sense of gratitude" from northern Alberta residents for their compassion and donations received across the country. She asked the PM to "fast-track" infrastructure money to get Fort McMurray back to work as soon as possible.

Trudeau responded first by lauding his Tory rival for meeting with firefighters and evacuees. He said that he looks forward to greeting "unsung heroes" in that area.

Liberals create new committee

The prime minister noted that he's launched an ad hoc cabinet committee to oversee "the efforts of the entire government" to help "rebuild and create, once again, a strong future so the people of Fort McMurray can continue to build a great future for all Canadians."

Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr, who represents the riding of Calgary Centre, will chair the special cabinet committee.

Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi, who represents Edmonton Mill Woods, is also a part of the group, as is Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains, Health Minister Jane Philpott, Families Minister Jean-Yves Duclos, Labour Minister MaryAnn Mihychuk, and Status of Women Minister Patty Hajdu.

The group will coordinate federal contributions to "recovery and rebuilding efforts" for those affected by the fire, Trudeau said in a release Wednesday.

"The new ad hoc cabinet committee is part of our work to address both the urgent and long term needs of communities affected by the Northern Alberta wildfires," Trudeau said in the release, adding federal officials are working closely with Trudeau said in a release Wednesday to help those displaced and homeless.

Ambrose told The Canadian Press the committee was a smart way to speed-up decision-making with recovery and rebuilding efforts.

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Fort McMurray Firefighters Battle Blaze (May 2016)
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