Former Alberta premier says she'd support federal Liberals navigate Western division
OTTAWA – Former Alberta premier Alison Redford says she’s willing to lend a hand to the Trudeau Liberals as they begin to mend the relationship between Ottawa and the West amid growing economic hardships.
In an interview with CTV’s Question Period, the province’s 14th premier said "I haven’t been asked. I am happy to help in any way. This is something Canadians have been thinking about for a long time and I think the key is that there has to be a lot of voices at the table."
After getting completely wiped out in both Alberta and Saskatchewan in Monday’s federal election, the Liberals will face an uphill battle trying to address the needs of both provinces, and especially after having lost the seats of two cabinet ministers in Ralph Goodale (Regina) and Amarjeet Sohi (Edmonton).
It’s led to speculation that Trudeau might appoint one or many special advisors from the West to address the gap in representation.
"If there’s something I can do, I’m happy to help," Redford reiterated.
She added that any attempts to stimulate economic growth don’t have to come at the expense of climate action or Indigenous reconciliation.
"They all have to come together and fit, not just so that we can intellectually understand what it means but so that we can actually come to a table, a negotiating table, and have a conversation that isn’t about regional politics or party politics but about how do we make this economy work that’s very dependent on natural resources."
In another interview on Question Period, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi – who the prime minister mentioned multiple times in his first media availability on Wednesday following the election– said he hasn’t been asked either, but has had a “firm and frank exchange of views” with Trudeau about immediate next steps.
"[Trudeau] highlighted that his challenge in Alberta and Saskatchewan is the number one thing on his mind right now,” said Nenshi. "We floated a number of ideas and ways that he can get even more plugged in with people out here."
Nenshi added that the concerns bubbling out of Canada’s foremost Western pockets prompting separatist rumblings are "very real, very frustrating, and very deep."
"For many, many, many years this province has been the economic engine for the country," he said.
"The challenge now is that the economy is firing on all cylinders, almost everywhere in the country, unemployment is at record lows, except in Saskatchewan and Alberta, and suddenly we, who are used to being the economic engine, feel we’re sputtering.”
Among the list of urgent needs, said Nenshi, is to get the Trans Mountain pipeline built and to kill Bill C-69 – informally referred to as the No More Pipelines Bill, and changing the environment assessment mechanisms for infrastructure projects.
The federal government bought the pipeline from Kinder Morgan in 2018 for a whopping $4.5 billion in fear the company would drop the project following pushback from the British Columbia government.
Trudeau recommitted to build the pipeline on Wednesday, saying it was in “Canada’s interest to do so.” While the exact timeline is unknown, he added that over the next several weeks he would be prioritizing the needs of his constituents out West.