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Wife of Canada's Trudeau plugs parks with parliament tents

© AFP | Wife of Canada's prime minister Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau (middle sunglasses) and their daughter Ella Grace (L) set up a tent on parliament's front lawn to promote this year's free access to Canada's national parks

OTTAWA (AFP) - 

Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau, the wife of Canada's prime minister, and their daughter Ella Grace pitched a tent on parliament's front lawn Friday to promote free access to Canada's fabled national parks.

Free access to the parks -- including Banff, Fundy, Glacier, Gulf Islands and Jasper -- is granted to locals and foreign tourists alike as part of a year-long celebration of the country's founding 150 years ago.

Gregoire-Trudeau and her daughter were joined by Environment Minister Catherine McKenna and a group of schoolchildren who had never before gone camping.

"When we meet in nature, we realize we're all the same," Gregoire-Trudeau said, recalling a recent camping trip with her family to Harrington Lake, the prime minister's official summer residence in Gatineau Park.

It is the most fun that can be had as a family, she said. "Your camping experiences will create long lasting memories for your families as it has done for ours."

As temperatures dipped near freezing during this unusually brisk spring, however, Gregoire-Trudeau conceded that the family abandoned their tent at around 2 a.m. that night for the warmth of the estate's 16-room colonial revival cottage.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has himself expressed a deep love for the outdoors.

During the 2015 campaign that swept his Liberals to power Trudeau took breaks from glad-handing to canoe, recalling iconic images of his late father -- former prime minister Pierre Trudeau -- in his birch bark canoe that is now on display at the Ottawa airport.

© 2017 AFP