Published: Sun, December 09, 2018
Science | By

Bill Kelly: Pipeline politics will dominate first ministers meeting

Bill Kelly: Pipeline politics will dominate first ministers meeting

"Yesterday, I had the opportunity to discuss it with Mr. Trudeau".

But expecting complete consensus or real action to emerge from the leaders was always going to be a tall order.

Higgs, who had never attended a first ministers meeting before, said numerous others "said this was one of the most productive meetings they've been in for a long time".

Notley, Moe and a number of other premiers, including Newfoundland and Labrador's Dwight Ball and Nova Scotia's Stephen McNeil, also want to talk about Bill C-69, federal legislation that is now stalled in the Senate and which would set more stringent rules for environmental assessments of energy projects.

The gathering is the fourth summit with premiers and Notley is demanding that Ottawa step up to help Alberta get its oil to tidewater for shipment to markets other than the United States. Customers have only been willing to take it at a steep discount to world prices.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley deserves credit for taking bold measures to address an immediate crisis affecting her province, and the Canadian economy as a whole.

"We are offering an energy that is not expensive and is clean", Legault said. "I am pleased that we were able to spend more time on the agenda talking about something that I think everyone understands is fundamentally important to the economic well-being of every Canadian".

Ford later sat down with two of his conservative, anti-carbon tax allies - Saskatchewan's Scott Moe and New Brunswick's Blaine Higgs.

Four conservative premiers - Ford, Moe, Higgs and Manitoba's Brian Pallister - have also gone to court but, in their case, it's to stop what they refer to as Trudeau's "job-killing carbon tax".

Ontario Premier Doug Ford says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has moved the goalposts on Canada's climate-change plans, asking Ontario to cut its greenhouse-gas emissions more than Ford had expected. Federal officials privately believe that will include efforts to derail today's meeting, potentially even staging a dramatic walkout - a scenario Ford and his aides have not ruled out. He's got Liberal and New Democrat premiers who also have bones to pick with the federal government. "I am not embarrassed to refuse dirty energy while we are offering clean energy at a competitive price".

"We have to acknowledge that pollution should not be free anywhere in Canada".

Trudeau had promised during the 2015 election to hold annual first ministers' meetings, a change from the former Harper government.

As it regards to moving the goalposts, it's not something Trudeau accepts.

Although Ford had been at the centre of demands to expand the agenda for the meeting, sources said neither he nor any member of his team was in the room when one of the issues he'd insisted upon - the influx of irregular border crossers - was discussed.

But if the meeting was thin on results, it was equally light on theatrics.

Moe said he also wants to talk about his demand that the feds repeal Bill C-69, legislation to re-write the rules for environmental assessments of energy projects, which is now stalled in the Senate. That, Ford said, is a punishment for Ontarians and "sets uncertainty in our economy".

"We had some commitments by the Prime Minister, by Catherine McKenna that they will work with the provinces to that certainty and we look forward to doing just that".

"Alberta has been feeding our kids for a long time with the royalties, with the money that has come from oil", Higgs said.

But the Quebec premier tried his best to kill that dream.

And Notley disparaged the federal government's preferred focus on interprovincial trade barriers.

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