Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister said fighting climate change should unite the country after meeting with Justin Trudeau, taking a markedly different approach from other Western conservative premiers who have warned the Prime Minister that his policies have contributed to Western alienation.
Mr. Pallister met Mr. Trudeau in the Prime Minister’s Parliament Hill office Friday and told reporters that he offered him friendly advice on making progress on pipelines and flood protection and that he “came in peace.”
Mr. Trudeau has been reaching out to premiers and mayors and acknowledged Thursday that there is work to do to ensure that the Liberals are governing for the entire country after an election result that saw his party completely wiped out in Alberta and Saskatchewan.
After the election, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and his Saskatchewan counterpart Scott Moe warned Mr. Trudeau of growing anger in the West, with Mr. Kenney saying in the Alberta legislature that "many Albertans feel betrayed.” Mr. Moe wrote a letter to Mr. Trudeau that made a number of demands, including cancelling the carbon tax.
Mr. Pallister said he and Mr. Trudeau discussed a range of issues including violence in Manitoba, Quebec’s controversial religious-symbols legislation and climate change.
While he believes the Liberals stoked division on the issue of a carbon price during the election, Mr. Pallister said fighting climate change should be an area where political leaders find common ground.
“I think the Liberal Party, the partisan side of the Prime Minister’s nature, was to create a spat about carbon tax, and that was largely the nature of the federal election, a divisive debate about carbon tax,” Mr. Pallister said.
“Fighting climate change is a unifying project, a political leader can divide, a prime minister should unite, so, as we move forward, we should unite around fighting climate change and we should not be caught up in a debate about a subset of a subset, the carbon tax is not the only way," Mr. Pallister said.
Pointing to his own province, Mr. Pallister said Manitoba is “green” and that it is ready to be measured on its plan. Manitoba is proceeding with hydroelectric development, Mr. Pallister said. It has eliminated coal, it’s in the process of eliminating single-use plastic bags and it is working to protect wetlands and species through a conservation trust.
“Carbon tax can be part of a climate-change mitigation strategy, but there are many, many other things that we should be doing together and we should be discussing those, and we should be acting on our obligations to the next generation and the ones after it,” he said.
Mr. Pallister said the intention of meeting with Mr. Trudeau was to help ensure that Canada is united and focused on solving problems, whether they are in Western Canada or other regions of the country, by offering some strategies.
There are many messages to take away from the federal election, he said, but one for certain is that the country is divided on some key issues.
“Unification efforts and a willingness to change one’s approaches are important things and deeds are much more powerful than words, so I would encourage the Prime Minister and all of us to engage in deeds that show that we want to reconcile this country,” he said.