'More of the same,' says Moe on lacklustre meeting with Trudeau
OTTAWA – Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe came out of a meeting with Prime Minster Justin Trudeau "disappointed" with what he says is a lack of commitment to address Western needs.
"We have provided some options for [Trudeau] to support the people of the province and today I did not hear a commitment to moving forward on those items," said Moe.
Top of the agenda were the premier’s previously stated priorities, outlined in a series of letters sent to the prime minister following the election that saw the Liberals entirely shut out of Saskatchewan and Alberta.
"I came here today to hear about what he was going to do differently to support the industries and the people in the province," he said. "I heard more of the same."
Among them: a one-year moratorium on the carbon tax, renegotiating equalization payments, and completing the Trans Mountain pipeline.
While there’s been much talk of Western separatism, mobilized through the grassroots Wexit movement, the Saskatchewan premier has said his province will work within the confines of the federation.
"The strength of our nation is some of the strengths of all of our provinces and Saskatchewan has been an outsized contributor over the last number of years," said Moe, who added that he would not "abandon" his province despite what he deems as inaction on the part of the prime minister.
He also said Bill C-69, dubbed by industry groups as the “no more pipelines bill,” which will revise the regulatory review process of major energy projects, must be viewed as a limitation to economic growth.
"It will hinder our ability not only for new minds, but will hinder our ability to get our products to market," said Moe.
In the immediate term, the province will continue with their carbon tax court challenge and diversify their trading networks globally to spark revenue generation, the premier said.
The Moe-Trudeau meeting is one of a series of federal and provincial leader sit-downs with the prime minister, starting last week with Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister who pledged to work with other Tory premiers to find common ground with the federal Liberals.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has been vocal on the topic of Western alienation. In a speech at a regional Manning Centre conference in Edmonton last Saturday, Kenney outlined what a “fair deal” would look like for Albertans, which includes the creation of a new panel to study big questions including whether Alberta should pull out of the Canada Pension Plan.
In a subsequent interview on CTV Power Play, Moe said his government would consider a similar move.
"Most certainly I do see following and entertaining the conversation around items just like that and more. This is a time for us as a province and maybe others, considering the divisions that we see manifesting themselves, to see what we can do in the way of enhancing our provincial autonomy."
Along with undertaking a listening exercise over the past several days, Trudeau has appointed former Liberal cabinet minister and deputy prime minister Anne McLellan as an adviser on Western Canada to help bridge the mounting divide. McLellan served as minister of natural resources in the government of Jean Chretien.
But in the same interview, Moe said the prime minister, when looking for input from the West, need not look further than the provinces in question.
"When he’s looking for representation from Saskatchewan, has one premier, 14 MPs, that’s who he needs to speak to," he said.
In an email statement to CTVNews.ca, a spokesperson from the Prime Minister’s Office said Trudeau will continue to have “constructive” discussions with his provincial counterparts about issues like the environment and economy in the weeks ahead.
"In addition to ensuring this Parliament works, Canadians expect our government to make life more affordable for them and fight climate change – which is exactly what we’re doing by putting a price on pollution and giving money right back to families, including for people in Saskatchewan," said Matt Pascuzzo.
The province was well represented on Parliament Hill Tuesday, as Trudeau met with Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer prior to his meeting with Moe.
Before being shuffled into a private meeting room, the two addressed the media together for the first time since the election.
"Our country is more divided than it ever has been. We need to get to work as quickly as possible so that we can address the priorities of Canadians and bring our country closer together," Scheer said.
Also announced Tuesday was the return of Parliament on December 5, when MPs will elect a new House of Commons Speaker and Trudeau will deliver his throne speech.