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Justin Trudeau spoke out yesterday against the British Columbia government's decision to stop funding the public avalanche warning system.

Mr. Trudeau is the eldest son of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau. His youngest brother, Michel, died in an avalanche in southeastern B.C. in 1998 in spite of taking safety precautions.

"It was a real shame to hear about it, that they were looking at cutting it because basically this is such an important service," said Mr. Trudeau, a director of the Canadian Avalanche Foundation.

B.C. government officials have refused comment on the matter.

The semi-weekly safety bulletin gives information on avalanche conditions for the mountain areas of British Columbia and Alberta, where avalanches kill approximately a dozen people every year.

The Federation of Mountain Clubs of B.C. called the funding cut a step backward for safety.

Canadian Avalanche Association officials point out that the Swiss saw a 50-per-cent decrease in avalanche deaths when they increased the frequency of their avalanche bulletins from twice weekly to daily.

The average avalanche search-and-rescue mission costs about $5,000 to $15,000. CP