Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said she is in Saskatchewan to listen after the province sent the Liberals a clear message in the Oct. 21 election.
“I’m here to talk to the premier, look for common ground and above all, listen,” Freeland said prior to her meeting with Moe.
Freeland spent Monday in Edmonton, where she met with Alberta Premier Jason Kenney as part of her listening tour of the Prairie provinces.
Moe said this meeting was much more cordial than a “disappointing” meeting he had with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shortly after the election. Neither side offered concrete commitments on issues, but Moe said he’s thankful Freeland came to Regina to listen in a nearly two-hour meeting.
“I’m hopeful, but I am realistic with respect to where the federal government is,” Moe said.
Moe raised the carbon tax with Freeland and discussed Saskatchewan getting more credit for carbon sequestration efforts. The premier also discussed a pitch for carbon tax fees associated with agriculture to be paid back to farmers.
The premier maintained the province’s view this should be purely provincial jurisdiction, which will be heard in the Supreme Court of Canada next year.
Tuesday’s meeting was about Freeland listening, but Moe said this will need to come with action. He doesn’t have a specific timeline, but Moe said he will be watching the fallout of this meeting closely.
“I’m a realist, but in the days, weeks and months ahead, we are going to be looking for some movement and some action,” Moe said.
“The frustration the prime minister identified in this province is due to the policy direction that has been occurring over the course of the last four years. If that’s not going to change, that frustration is going to continue.”
“I guess I would be hopeful that this is a government and a prime minister that will do what he said he will do and act on the frustrations that he identified and the fact that he wants to support Saskatchewan people and those frustrations,” Moe said.
The premier said he hopes Ottawa looks at the items he laid out in his “new deal with Canada.” This includes a one-year pause of the carbon tax, renegotiating equalization and ensuring pipelines are built.
Moe said he’s sure more items will be raised following the upcoming meeting of Canada’s premiers.
Going forward, Moe said Saskatchewan will be looking at areas of potential collaboration with Ottawa in an effort to mend relations. This includes providing input on potential changes to the implementation of Bill C-69, which Moe previously called the “no more pipelines bill.”
“We feel there are some opportunities in the implementation of it to make it a better bill, but ultimately there’s going to have to be some changes to the legislation itself,” Moe said.
Bill C-69 is meant to overhaul the environmental assessment process for major infrastructure projects like pipelines and mines.
This is the second conversation between Moe and Freeland within a week. The two spoke on the phone shortly after she was appointed deputy prime minister and intergovernmental affairs minister during the Nov. 20 cabinet shuffle.
Freeland meets Regina’s mayor
Mayor Fougere also said Freeland listened more than she spoke and described her job of trying to patch up national unity as a tall order.
“Part of that order is to listen to what people are actually saying and fashion, very quickly, policies that will bring inclusiveness and understanding, Fougere said.
“Their policies, either directly or indirectly, have hurt Western Canada in many ways so she must act and be seen to be acting and have substantive changes that will redirect the conversation.”
Fougere met with Freeland first. One of the main points he brought to the table was regional frustration with climate change policy, and he discussed the need to find a compromise between the provincial and federal stance.
“Taxing carbon, the large emitters, maybe that’s a way to change behaviours and also to invest in new technology as well. So I thought maybe there’s a way to find some way of compromise on there that meets both the federal objectives and provincial objectives as well,” Fougere said.
Saskatchewan’s climate plan heavily touts technological investment as the best way to address climate change, but it does include pricing mechanisms for heavy industrial emissions.
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