Pre­miers meet two key mem­bers of Obama team

Cape Breton Post - - NATIONAL -

WASH­ING­TON (CP) — Seven Cana­dian pre­miers met with a pair of key White House power bro­kers Fri­day in ad­vance of their at­ten­dance at an in­flu­en­tial con­fer­ence of Amer­i­can gov­er­nors.

The leaders of Que­bec, On­tario, Man­i­toba, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Nova Sco­tia and Prince Ed­ward Is­land dis­cussed the econ­omy and ef­forts to re­duce green­house gas emis­sions with Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s eco­nomic czar, Larry Sum­mers, and Lisa Jack­son, head of the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency.

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall said he and his coun­ter­parts raised con­cerns that Cana­dian man­u­fac­tur­ers might be sub­ject to puni­tive mea­sures from the U.S. now that the EPA has warned it will start reg­u­lat­ing car­bon emis­sions, a sim­mer­ing hotspot in Canada-U.S. re­la­tions.

Que­bec Premier Jean Charest urged Jack­son to con­sider hy­dro­elec­tric power as a re­new­able re­source, said his New Brunswick col­league, Shawn Gra­ham.

Eco­nomic re­cov­ery and trade is­sues, he said, were top items of dis­cus­sion with Sum­mers.

The meet­ing with Jack­son came in the midst of tough talk by the EPA that it will be­gin to crack down on car­bon emis­sions in the ab­sence of green­house gas leg­is­la­tion from Congress. That leg­is­la­tion is stalled af­ter the Democrats re­cently lost their fil­i­buster-proof ma­jor­ity in the Se­nate with the elec­tion of a Repub­li­can to the late Ted Kennedy’s Mas­sachusetts seat.

Cana­dian man­u­fac­tur­ers could suf­fer due to the EPA’s in­volve­ment if Wash­ing­ton opts to im­pose pro­tec­tion­ist bar­ri­ers on oil and other goods made from car­bon-in­ten­sive in­dus­tries north of the bor­der.

Charest, for his part, said he planned to push Jack­son to al­low hy­dro­elec­tric projects to be­come el­i­gi­ble for green en­ergy sub­si­dies in the United States. Que­bec has sev­eral such projects, and a num­ber of U.S. states are on­side with Charest on that re­quest.

The pre­miers aren’t ex­actly on the same page on en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues. Charest has crit­i­cized Ottawa for its in­sis­tence that Cana­dian green­house gas pol­icy must be in lock­step with the Amer­i­cans, while Wall and other oil-pro­duc­ing prov­inces are in agree­ment with the feds that the U.S. and Canada must be in synch.

Trade is­sues will again dom­i­nate a Sun­day meet­ing with U.S. Agri­cul­ture Sec­re­tary Tom Vil­sack. The pre­miers are ex­pected to raise con­cerns about the U.S. coun­try-of-ori­gin la­belling rules on Cana­dian meat and other food prod­ucts.

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