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Senator Larry Campbell is driving from B.C. to Ottawa to vote on an emergency COVID-19 bill

Travels with Larry and Sue – Chapter 1
larry campbell
Former Vancouver mayor, and current senator, Larry Campbell is driving from B.C. to Ottawa to vote on an emergency COVID-19 bill. Photo Bob Kronbauer

Canadian Senator Larry Campbell has been quietly driving across Canada over the past few days with his dog, Sue, trying to make it to Ottawa in time to pass emergency legislation next week.

Sue is an eight-year-old purebred Bluetick Coonhound, Larry is a 72-year-old former Vancouver coroner turned mayor turned senator.

The pair left their home on Galiano Island this past Wednesday in his pickup truck towing their small trailer.

Campbell figures that there's going to be an emergency bill coming down in relation to COVID-19 and he wants to be in the senate to vote on it. His chief of staff, Pamela Ross, suggested he play it safe and drive instead of risking contracting the virus on an airplane.

Hours after deciding that was the way to go, Larry's family had him packed up and ready to go.

His wife, Kate Paterson, tells me that she was thrilled when he decided to drive.

She says: "He's been talking about wanting to do a road trip like this for some time, and he was upset because [due to COVID-19 restrictions] he was forced to cancel a trip through California with his son, to Area 51."

Paterson and her daughter Daisy packed up the essentials that weren't yet in the trailer: "Water, a sleeping bag and a flashlight."

They also filled the fridge with frozen chili, a loaf of bread, some cookies and "a bunch of cans of Coca-Cola," and waved goodbye.

LEAVING BRITISH COLUMBIA

I caught up with Larry and Sue on Wednesday evening in a Safeway parking lot on their way out of the Lower Mainland.

As he tells me, they only need 16 senators for a vote, and they'll have more than enough from eastern Canada to do one, but that "I believe I should be there."

He tells me it's because he feels it's his duty to attend and to vote. He wants to, "Because I'm a senator, and that's what I do for a living."

Also, "I love driving. I should have been a long haul trucker!"

He'll be parking overnight at campsites along the way, taking in the sights and "mostly avoiding people," like we're all doing in these days of social isolation.

DAY THREE – SASKATCHEWAN

I called Larry this morning, Friday, March 20, reaching him when he was an hour and a half outside of Swift Current, Saskatchewan.

He tells me he and Sue are doing well and jokes that gas prices were so low in Calgary (71 cents per litre!) that he was thinking of "putting a liner in the box of the truck and filling it with gas."

He's been driving for about 12 hours each day, and every couple hours they stop so they can stretch their legs. 

They hit a bit of a speed bump last night when they lost heat in the trailer for some reason.

He tells me, "I just threw on another comforter and had a great sleep," but that "I may be in a Motel 6 tonight though. I'm starting to smell like the dog, you know?"

For dinner last night he made hamburgers and a salad, and he reassures me that, "Me and the dog have been drinking a lot of water."

He hopes to get into Winnipeg by tonight, and before we got off the phone makes a point of saying "It's so beautiful. This country is just so beautiful."

EXPECT DAILY UPDATES RIGHT HERE

Larry expects to arrive in Ottawa by Monday, where he'll stay in an apartment he has there. He says he'll likely spend a few days there then decide what return route they'll take.

Over the next few days we'll be bringing you daily Travels With Larry and Sue updates as these two make their way to the capital... and back.

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