Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday December 7, 2018
‘Expect a little dustup’: Trudeau, premiers brace for fractious first ministers meeting
Senior officials from multiple provinces are predicting a tense and difficult first ministers meeting when premiers gather to discuss the economy and trade with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Montreal on Friday.
“You can expect a little dustup. There’s no doubt about that,” said one provincial source who spoke to CBC News on condition they not be named.
The tensions became obvious during a conference call between the premiers on Tuesday afternoon. According to sources with knowledge of the call, several premiers voiced frustration with the draft federal agenda, which sets aside a significant amount of time to talk about issues important to the federal government and leaves only an hour for the provinces to raise their own priority issues.
“The agenda as presented had the prime minister fitting in a train of his cabinet ministers to lecture the premiers on the topics of his choosing,” said a second source from another provincial government, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The main point of contention in the first ministers’ agenda is the plan to give three federal cabinet ministers — Finance Minister Bill Morneau, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna and Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc — two hours and 45 minutes in the middle of the day to lead discussions on trade and competitiveness, climate change and interprovincial trade barriers. The premiers’ roundtable which follows is set to run only 60 minutes.
The PMO late Wednesday reached out to CBC News to say that the ministers will only be speaking for a few minutes at the beginning of their part of the meeting before premiers are invited to voice their concerns.
The provinces have been agitating to set aside time at the meeting to talk about the downturn in the oil sector and Bill C-69, which overhauls the process for major project approval in Canada. Critics say C-69 will make it harder to advance large scale energy projects for development.
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe sent a letter to Trudeau this week demanding that the “crisis facing the energy industry” be added to the agenda. Other premiers argue it’s impossible to have a first ministers meeting about the economy without carving out time to discuss the impact of C-69 .
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe sent a letter to Trudeau this week demanding that the “crisis facing the energy industry” be added to the agenda. Other premiers argue it’s impossible to have a first ministers meeting about the economy without carving out time to discuss the impact of C-69 . (Source: CBC)