Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are to hold their first face-to-face meeting since the federal election.
Kenney says he and eight of his cabinet ministers and other senior officials will be in Ottawa on Monday and Tuesday to discuss issues ranging from pipelines to equalization.
They will be “making the point that Alberta has been a massive contributor to Canadian jobs and prosperity, to social programs and social progress,” Kenney said Friday.
“And yet we are not getting a fair deal with the blockage of pipelines (and) with the lack of market access.”
Kenney said he is to meet Trudeau on Tuesday afternoon and will bring up a resolution passed unanimously at the recent meeting of provincial and territorial leaders to consider changes to the fiscal stabilization fund.
The fund helps provinces facing year-over-year declines in non-resource revenues, but Alberta contends it is being shortchanged due to caps tied to the size of its population.
Kenney said Alberta should receive about $2.4 billion going back to 2014. He said he’s optimistic there will be a policy change because the feds have promised to talk about it.
“We haven’t had anything like an assurance, but (we’ve heard) language that sounds like an openness to talk to us about this.”
Alberta NDP trade critic Deron Bilous said it’s ironic that Kenney, a former Conservative cabinet minister, is going to Ottawa to try to overturn changes to an equalization deal that was amended by former prime minister Stephen Harper’s government.
“I find it rich when you have a premier who is now going to save Alberta and Albertans’ tax dollars by equalization when he is the one who is responsible for making it worse,” said Bilous.
Kenney said he will also press Trudeau for a fixed completion date on the Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion and again raise concerns on federal rules that ban tankers on B.C.’s northern coast and on approval criteria for energy megaprojects.
He is to make a noontime speech at the Canadian Club of Ottawa on Monday and meet with federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh and federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer.
The meeting will be the next step in what has been a complex and, at times, highly strained relationship between Trudeau and Kenney.
Once adversaries in the House of Commons, Kenney, while United Conservative Party leader in Alberta in 2018, gratuitously dismissed the Liberal prime minister as an intellectual lightweight and a dilettante.
He campaigned against Trudeau in his successful Alberta election campaign last spring, painting then-NDP premier Rachel Notley as a willing glove puppet for what he termed Trudeau’s anti-oil efforts, despite the fact the federal government had purchased the multibillion-dollar Trans-Mountain project to keep it alive.
Kenney campaigned for Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer in the federal election, warning that a renewed Trudeau mandate would be catastrophic for Alberta’s oil and gas economy.
Trudeau was re-elected Oct. 21 with a minority mandate but his Liberals were shut out in Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Trudeau has since made overtures to work with Alberta and Saskatchewan, sending Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland last week to meet with Kenney and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe.
There remains and lot of work to do and animosity to overcome.
In Ottawa on Friday, Calgary Conservative MP Michelle Rempel Garner introduced a petition in Parliament, jointly with Alberta MLA Jeremy Nixon, calling on Canada to let Alberta take action to further its own interests and autonomy.
Rempel Garner said Trudeau has caused a unity crisis with hostile policies that damage the Alberta economy.
“Every Canadian needs to understand the consequences of the unity crisis that Justin Trudeau has put us in,” she said.
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