OTTAWA — The Prime Minister’s Office released a rare lengthy readout of a closed-door meeting Tuesday after Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe told reporters he felt disillusioned after his one-on-one with Justin Trudeau.
Moe told reporters he had come to Ottawa “in good faith” to hear more about the prime minister’s election-night pledge to support Saskatchewan.
“I came today to hear about what he was going to do differently to support the industries and the people in our province and I can tell you this — I did not hear that there is going to be anything different, there is going to be more of the same,” he said.
The Saskatchewan premier said he asked Trudeau to put the government’s mandatory carbon pricing system “on pause” in his province to work toward “real solutions” instead. The system is particularly hurting some farmers who are seeing “exorbitant carbon tax bills” for propane and natural gas used to dry their grain, he explained.
“The carbon taxation policy in our province does nothing to reduce emissions.”
Watch: Saskatchewan Premier Moe frustrated after meeting with Trudeau. Story continues below video.
Moe hinted at ideas to expand his province’s “autonomy” through increasing exports of agri-food and energy products. He did not provide a further explanation on what expanded “provincial autonomy” would look like.
Normally an official summary of a leader’s meeting is just a few short sentences. The Prime Minister’s Office has released 30 readouts of leaders’ meetings and conversations since June 21, averaging the length of 133 words.
Trudeau’s office released the following 407-word readout of Tuesday’s closed-door meeting after Moe’s comments to reporters:
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets with Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe
November 12, 2019
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets with Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe November 12, 2019 Ottawa, Ontario Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe today to discuss important priorities. The Prime Minister reaffirmed his commitment to work collaboratively with the provincial government on behalf of the people of Saskatchewan.
The Prime Minister reiterated the Government of Canada’s determination to see the Trans Mountain Expansion (TMX) project completed, and highlighted to the Premier that there are currently over 2,200 people working on its construction outside Edmonton and in Burnaby. He thanked Premier Moe for intervening on the side of the federal government in the British Columbia Court of Appeal on its reference case related to the TMX project. Both are aligned in wanting this project built. In addition to TMX, the Prime Minister highlighted four other major energy projects in western Canada that this government fully supports: Keystone XL, Line 3, LNG Canada and the Manitoba-Minnesota Transmission Line. Taken together, these projects demonstrate Ottawa’s support of Canada’s energy industry.
The Prime Minister invited Premier Moe to provide suggestions for improvements to the Impact Assessment Act, and said he would consider suggestions for improvements to federal transfers, including the Fiscal Stabilization Program. The Prime Minister reminded Premier Moe that the current Equalization formula is the same one that the previous federal government put in place with support of the federal cabinet ministers of the day. The Prime Minister suggested that Premier Moe, in his capacity as Chair of the Council of the Federation, work with all of his fellow premiers to gain consensus on potential changes to the formula.
The Prime Minister reaffirmed the importance of putting a price on pollution as a key part of Canada’s efforts to address climate change, and expressed an openness to work with any provincial government that plans to meet the federal benchmark; he also noted the net benefits Saskatchewan residents will receive from Climate Action Incentive payments. The Prime Minister and Premier Moe also discussed infrastructure investments that governments are making in Saskatchewan through the Investing in Canada Plan, and reviewed a number of other issues of national importance, including ensuring market access for Canadian agricultural products in China and diversifying international trade.
The Prime Minister said he looks forward to hearing about the discussions from the premiers’ meeting next month, which Premier Moe will chair, and to seeing Premier Moe at a First Ministers’ Meeting in the new year.
Conversations about national unity are top-of-mind for Prairie leaders after Liberals won a minority — and failed to win any seats in Alberta or Saskatchewan.
In his election-night victory speech, Trudeau addressed Canadians in those two provinces, telling them, “I’ve heard your frustration and I want to be there to support you. Let us all work hard to bring our country together.”
The topic also came up during the prime minister’s meeting with Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer Tuesday. Trudeau is scheduling private conversations with opposition party leaders this week to find common ground with leaders.
With Liberals expected to form a minority government, Trudeau now needs support from opposition parties to pass legislation.
The prime minister met with Bloc Québécois Yves-François Blanchet Wednesday. He will meet with NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh Thursday and Green Party’s Elizabeth May Friday.