December 18, 2018

Few results from first ministers meeting, but at least nobody stormed out

09 December 2018, 04:12 | Edward Lowe

First ministers meeting shaping up to be most acrimonious in years Canadian Press

First ministers meeting shaping up to be most acrimonious in years

On his way into a meeting of first ministers with Indigenous leaders in Montreal this morning he told reporters that if the premiers have too many priorities, they won't get anything done.

Talk regarding the energy sector and the bill has grown stronger in the recent times, most recently with Alberta Premier Rachel Notley announcing a temporary curtailment of the province's oil production in an attempt to get a better price for crude.

However, that's not the major issue facing our federation, nor the most pressing.

The Premier of Saskatchewan, along with those from across Canada, were in Montreal attending the First Ministers Meeting.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to face criticism from premiers about the federal approach to pipelines, carbon taxes and oil prices - none of which are specifically on the agenda.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford who had initially threatened to walk out of the meeting if his demands for changes to the agenda weren't met, described the discussions as "fabulous" and "fantastic".

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Ford's recently unveiled climate-change plan is a "step backwards", Trudeau said, noting that the Ontario premier has scrapped his province's involvement in a cap-and-trade regime with Quebec and California.

Ford said he was looking forward to Friday's meeting but, after his tete-a-tete with Trudeau, he refused to answer reporters' questions about whether walking away from the table is still an option.

The Alberta government's position has hardened against the federal government's Bill C-69, another sign of the change in its relationship with Ottawa.

Friday's closed-door gathering is Trudeau's fourth summit with premiers and promises to be the most turbulent - and likely the least productive. "Canada's targets are national targets, even though the premier may wish to play games with numbers". Asked if it was odd for Quebec to find itself in agreement with the prime minister and watching as other provinces pick fights, Legault laughed: "I sensed there were a lot of people who wanted me in their camp".

Ford and other premiers wanted to discuss the nationally-loathed, job killing, environmentally pointless carbon tax.

In full-page ads purchased in Quebec media Friday, including the Montreal Gazette, the province says delays in the pipeline expansion are costing Canadians $80 million a day.

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Legault also raised the issue with Trudeau of compensation for costs incurred in paying for asylum seekers.

"We will pursue the discussions", Legault said.

New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs wants to revive the Energy East pipeline, while Quebec Premier François Legault says there's no way Quebec will support such an idea.

"I'm optimistic that we'll all see it through", said Higgs.

Manitoba's Brian Pallister is warning that nothing will be accomplished at today's first ministers' meeting if premiers insist on expanding the agenda to discuss a laundry list of issues.

No other premier seems inclined to join Ford in threatening to walk out of the meeting.

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The fall legislature session ended Thursday with talk of what could be the biggest change of them all. "And frankly, we know how we can work together and move forward".

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