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Kathleen Wynne, Justin Trudeau talk carbon pricing, collaboration

01/29/2015 07:47 EST | Updated 03/31/2015 05:59 EDT
Liberal leader Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne met Thursday in Ottawa to discuss infrastructure spending, Ontario's Ring of Fire mining zone, carbon pricing and the need for the prime minister to meet with premiers as a group.

Following their meeting, Wynne told reporters at a joint press conference the two leaders talked about the need for a stronger economic union in Canada and for investments in infrastructure.

"If we are going to grow, we need to build," Wynne said.

Wynne also said there is a role for the federal government on setting a price on carbon to control emissions. "Provinces are working on their own... but it's important to have a federal government that is supportive," she said. Wynne would not say what type of carbon pricing model she prefers.

Trudeau added he was happy to see leadership on carbon pricing coming from the provinces but said a national vision is needed to bring those efforts together — and to make sure the world knows Canada takes the issue seriously as it tries to get its resources to world markets.

"It's not just a moral imperative, it's also an economic issue," he said.

Wynne also said she will be meeting with national chief Perry Bellegarde later today. Bellegarde met with Stephen Harper yesterday.

Premiers meet Friday

Wynne and Trudeau's meeting comes a day before Canada's provincial and territorial premiers are set to meet. Following the news conference with Trudeau, Wynne will meet privately with U.S. ambassador to Canada Bruce Heyman and later with Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard.

Premiers are gathering in the nation's capital Friday to discuss energy, skills training, barriers to internal trade and the need to get more infrastructure money from the feds.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who has skipped these Council of the Federation meetings for years, will not be attending the meeting being held just a few blocks from his office.

The House of Commons will spend Thursday debating a Liberal proposal that calls on the prime minister to hold annual First Ministers Conferences.

Despite his reluctance to meet with the premiers as a group, Harper kicked off 2015 with a face-to-face meeting with Wynne while he was in Toronto. He also met with Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Paul Davis in Ottawa last December and Alberta Premier Jim Prentice in October.

Wynne, earlier this month, invited Harper to Friday's meeting and recently said it was frustrating that the prime minister won't attend.

She says it's beneficial to the country as a whole when the prime minister sits down with his provincial and territorial counterparts.

Wynne has proposed a sweeping, multibillion-dollar, federal-provincial infrastructure partnership and says she'll raise it at the meeting.

Clark only western premier going

Prentice won't be in Ottawa on Friday, choosing instead to send Diana McQueen, his municipal affairs minister, as he focuses on the upcoming provincial budget. 

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall won't be in Ottawa for the meeting but will participate by teleconference.

B.C.'s Christy Clark said she'll represent the Western provinces where the impact of sliding oil prices on the economy is expected to be a key topic.

"I'm the only western premier going," Clark said adding "I'll be advancing the interests of western Canada and B.C. when I'm there."

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