Trudeau just found out what Harper knew: First Ministers’ meetings are dangerous
It’s a swell time to be a premier. After years of getting the deep-freeze from Stephen Harper — ranging from the silent treatment to out-and-out hostility — provincial and territorial leaders once again have a seat at the federal table, courtesy of Justin Trudeau.
And it appears they’re going to leverage their position for all it’s worth — setting the stage for a showdown between their priorities and those of the PM.
First, Trudeau revived the tradition of First Ministers’ meetings last November, ahead of the Paris summit on climate change. “It is clear that the way forward for Canada will be in a solution that resembles Canada, that is shared values and shared desires for outcomes and different approaches to achieve those outcomes right across this great country,” Trudeau enthused after a four-hour working dinner before jetting off to France. And apart from some modest dissent from Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, it was pretty much sunny ways and smiles all around — apparently, a good start to the federal-provincial relationship.
The clouds started to gather when Trudeau hosted a second First Ministers meeting in March 2016, again focusing on the issue of climate change. The gathering didn’t produce many concrete results, but it did expose existing fault lines between the provinces, some of them holding diametrically opposed views on things like pipeline development and carbon pricing.
Premier Wall again led the charge for those resisting a national carbon-pricing plan, and while the group agreed in principle to setting carbon targets, the details were left for another dinner.
Then this week, the rain began to fall — hard. The premiers sent the prime minister a letter repeating their verbal request from this past July that he meet with them to discuss health care funding. If the PM can’t make it by Christmas, they said, that’s OK: He can just send money by postponing planned changes to the Canada Health Transfer by a year.
The premiers don’t like those changes. They claim they would reduce transfers by $1 billion in 2017-18 alone by dropping the annual escalator clause for the CHT from 6 per cent to a minimum of 3 per cent. So they’re looking for an extra present in their stockings before the government plans its budget early next year.
Read the full article on iPolitics.