Premiers meet two key members of Obama team
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.