Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says it will take significant policy changes from the federal government to “reset" the relationship with his province and address the frustration and anger that have boiled over since last month’s election.
Still, Mr. Moe said he was encouraged after meeting Mr. Trudeau’s most senior minister, Chrystia Freeland, in Regina on Tuesday. He said Ms. Freeland, who was recently appointed Deputy Prime Minister and Intergovernmental Affairs Minister, appeared eager to listen to Saskatchewan’s concerns and get up to speed on the issues facing the province.
“In the days and weeks and months ahead, we are going to be looking for some movement, and some action,” Mr. Moe told reporters after the meeting. He noted that the Prime Minister used his victory speech on election night to assure residents of Alberta and Saskatchewan that they would be heard in Ottawa.
“The frustration that the Prime Minister identified in this province is due to the policy direction that has been occurring over the course of the last four years. And if that is not going to change, that frustration is going to continue.”
Mr. Moe said he did not receive any firm policy commitments as he reiterated his demands for a “new deal” for Saskatchewan, including cancelling the carbon tax and reforming the equalization system.
Instead, he said the purpose of the meeting was for Ms. Freeland to hear where the province is coming from.
“This is an opportunity for our federal government to do, not a total reset, but a reset of the relationship with Saskatchewan but also other areas of the nation,” he said. "And I’m hopeful that they that they will do just that.”
Mr. Moe met with Mr. Trudeau in Ottawa earlier this month, but it did not go well.
Mr. Moe left the meeting fuming, saying he expected “more of the same” from a Liberal government that he argued had ignored the province. Less than two weeks before that, the Premier accused Mr. Trudeau of fanning the flames of alienation and separation on the Prairies.
The Premier described Tuesday’s meeting as “more cordial,” though he didn’t elaborate.
Before the meeting, Ms. Freeland acknowledged the challenges for her government and pointed to last month’s election, when the Liberal party was completely shut out of Saskatchewan and Alberta.
"The people of Saskatchewan sent a message to our government on election day, and so I am here to talk to the Premier, to look for common ground, and above all, to listen,” she said.
The Liberal government has been looking for ways to represent the views of the Prairie provinces without any MPs from the region to appoint to cabinet.
On Monday, Ms. Freeland met with Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, who also struck a positive tone before a meeting in which he outlined a list of demands for Ottawa.
Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan travelled to Alberta the day after he was sworn in for a meeting with that province’s Energy Minister. The government also appointed Jim Carr, who is no longer serving in cabinet, as a special adviser for the Prairies.
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