FIRST MIN­IS­TERS MEET­ING

No com­mit­ment on oil cri­sis

Edmonton Journal - - FRONT PAGE - PHILIP AU­THIER pau­[email protected]­media.com twit­ter.com/phili­pau­thier

Al­berta has gone on the of­fen­sive to sell the Trans Moun­tain oil pipe­line, por­tray­ing the is­sue as a na­tional pri­or­ity.

In full-page ads pur­chased in Que­bec me­dia Fri­day, in­clud­ing the Mon­treal Gazette, the prov­ince says delays in the pipe­line ex­pan­sion are cost­ing Cana­di­ans $80 mil­lion a day.

The cam­paign was launched as Canada’s first min­is­ters, in­clud­ing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, gather in a Mon­treal ho­tel for talks. And on Thurs­day Premier François Le­gault said the is­sue of oil pipe­lines is no longer so­cially ac­cept­able in Que­bec.

He was re­fer­ring to the dream of some west­ern Cana­dian lead­ers and New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs, who would like to re­ac­ti­vate the dead Tran­sCanada En­ergy East pipe­line pro­ject, which would carry west­ern oil across Que­bec to the east.

But Al­berta Premier Rachel Notley re­mains un­daunted in solv­ing her own pipe­line problems.

Af­ter the fail­ure to get the Trans Moun­tain pipe­line ex­pan­sion pro­ject off the ground, she started cru­sad­ing for fed­eral com­pen­sa­tion and is mak­ing an­other pitch in Mon­treal.

“The sin­gle most im­por­tant is­sue fac­ing Canada’s econ­omy now is the dif­fi­culty get­ting our oil and gas prod­ucts to mar­ket,” Notley told re­porters ar­riv­ing for talks.

“Any kind of meet­ing that fo­cuses on the pros­per­ity and well-be­ing of Cana­di­ans that doesn’t fo­cus sub­stan­tially on that is­sue is not a meet­ing that is well de­signed. So we’re go­ing to do ev­ery­thing we can to get some real work done here.”

Her com­ments re­flect the main beef of some premiers who ar­rived say­ing the agenda for the meet­ing with Trudeau was too tilted to the needs of Ot­tawa, while they want to talk about the car­bon tax and a res­cue for the oil in­dus­try.

Ar­riv­ing for the meet­ing, Le­gault re­vealed that Higgs raised the En­ergy East pro­ject, which would ben­e­fit New Brunswick but would have to cross Que­bec, in a bi­lat­eral ses­sion Fri­day.

“He talked to me about it,” Le­gault said. “But I told him there’s no so­cial ac­cept­abil­ity (in Que­bec).”

As for help­ing Al­berta with its oil cri­sis, Le­gault sug­gested it was not re­ally Que­bec’s prob­lem.

But in the ad, Al­berta said the pipe­line is­sue is ev­ery­one’s prob­lem. The ad says the pipe­line de­lay means less in­vest­ment in in­fra­struc­ture, less in­vest­ment in green en­ergy and fewer jobs for Cana­di­ans.

Le­gault also raised the is­sue with Trudeau of com­pen­sa­tion for costs in­curred in pay­ing for asy­lum seek­ers. Que­bec is seek­ing $300 mil­lion to cover costs in­curred.

“We will pur­sue the dis­cus­sions,” Le­gault said.

Trudeau moved to ease ten­sions at the meet­ing, say­ing he does not ex­pect the premiers to agree on ev­ery­thing. He tried to ease their fears Thurs­day evening, invit­ing them to dine at a pop­u­lar Park Ex­ten­sion Greek restau­rant.

In his open­ing re­marks at Fri­day ’s meet­ing, Trudeau re­sponded to crit­i­cism — es­pe­cially from On­tario Premier Doug Ford — that the agenda didn’t in­clude enough time for the premiers’ con­cerns.

“To­day the premiers and I will talk about how we can best sup­port Cana­di­ans work­ing in sec­tors that are cur­rently fac­ing sig­nif­i­cant chal­lenges,” Trudeau said, “whether they’re oil and gas work­ers in Al­berta hit hard by the price dif­fer­en­tial or GM work­ers in Oshawa.

“Our gov­ern­ment will con­tinue to sup­port Cana­dian work­ers and we will al­ways stand up for Cana­dian fam­i­lies. We have many sub­jects to dis­cuss, and I want to leave the most time pos­si­ble for dis­cus­sion.”

But he was firm in his be­lieve Ot­tawa’s new car­bon tax to re­duce pol­lu­tion will stay.

“We have to ac­knowl­edge that pol­lu­tion should not be free any­where in Canada.”

The sin­gle most im­por­tant is­sue fac­ing Canada’s econ­omy now is the dif­fi­culty get­ting our oil and gas prod­ucts to mar­ket.

RYAN REMIORZ/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Premier Rachel Notley is on a mis­sion to make the prov­ince’s oil cri­sis a pri­or­ity for other prov­inces and Ot­tawa. Al­berta launched an ad cam­paign to high­light the sec­tor’s im­por­tance.

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