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Canada Moe eyes more autonomy after 'disappointing' meeting with Trudeau

08:55  13 november  2019
08:55  13 november  2019 Source:   leaderpost.com

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Scott Moe says he is disappointed after a meeting with Justin Trudeau on Tuesday. The Saskatchewan premier says he is not encouraged the minority Liberal

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe arrives to speak to the media after a meeting with Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Parliament Hill in Ottawa After their conversation, which lasted less than 30 minutes, he suggested he and Trudeau see eye -to- eye on subjects both parties made promises

Justin Trudeau wearing a suit and tie sitting in a chair: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets with Premier Scott Moe in a file photo taken in Regina. The two met on Tuesday in Ottawa. © PATRICK DOYLE Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets with Premier Scott Moe in a file photo taken in Regina. The two met on Tuesday in Ottawa.

After a meeting with the prime minister failed to break the logjam on divisive issues like carbon pricing and equalization, Premier Scott Moe said Saskatchewan will be looking at ways to assert autonomy from Ottawa.

The two leaders spoke for about 50 minutes in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office on Parliament Hill on Tuesday morning. Moe initially sought the meeting to push his “new deal for Canada” agenda, which he framed as an attempt to heal divisions revealed by the Oct. 21 federal election.

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“ After this meeting here today, what I do see is that we’re going to see more of the same from this prime minister,” Moe said after the “We are also going to look at options that we have to expand our provincial autonomy in the province.” Moe was the third conservative premier to meet with Trudeau

Moe walked into the meeting with a set of demands he'd been articulating since the Liberals won a minority government: a one-year pause on the federal carbon tax in Scheer, who also represents a Saskatchewan riding, left his own meeting with Trudeau with a slightly more optimistic tone.

Moe called the talks “disappointing.” He said Trudeau made no new commitments on the key priorities he raised, including a pause on the federal carbon backstop, reforms to the equalization program and better market access for Saskatchewan commodities.

“I came today to hear about what he was going to do differently to support the industries and the people of our province, and I can tell you this, I did not hear that there was going to be anything different,” he told reporters in Ottawa. “I heard more of the same.”

He then floated the possibility of seeking more “autonomy” for Saskatchewan. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has used similar language, specifically mentioning options like a provincial pension plan, a provincial police force or moves to opt out of cost-shared programs.

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“ After this meeting here today, what I do see is that we’re going to see more of the same from this prime minister,” Moe said after the “We are also going to look at options that we have to expand our provincial autonomy in the province.” Moe was the third conservative premier to meet with Trudeau

On Tuesday, Moe and Trudeau met in Ottawa to talk about issues important to western Canadians, less than a month after the federal election. " Disappointingly , after this meeting here today, what I do see is that we are going to see more of the same from this Prime Minister," Moe told reporters.

In an interview with the Leader-Post, Moe said he would be looking at “those options as well as other options.” But he did not make any specific commitments, saying details will be revealed “in the days ahead.”

“We’ll be considering a number of different options where Saskatchewan has an opportunity to exert our provincial autonomy,” said Moe. “We’re going to think very seriously about doing that.”

The only examples he provided in his Ottawa scrum centred on boosting Saskatchewan’s efforts on international trade.

A federal government official with knowledge of the meeting cast it in a different light, saying Trudeau came in with an open mind. She said Moe brought little to the table. He didn’t have other premiers on board for equalization reforms, she said, and had no concrete proposals to reform contentious policies like Bill C-69.

“We’re open to hearing suggestions on how to make that better,” she told the Leader-Post. “But he didn’t come with that.”

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OTTAWA — Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe ’s back-to-back meetings with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Tuesday yielded little by way of results in the seemingly elusive search for national unity in the wake of a divisive federal election.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe came out of a meeting with Prime Minster Justin Trudeau ' disappointed ' with what he says is a lack of commitment to address Western needs.

Moe’s press secretary, Jim Billington, responded by saying the Saskatchewan government has formally communicated its concerns over bill C-69 twice and has made a specific equalization proposal. He noted that equalization is a federal policy and it is up to the federal government to “further advance this with the provinces.”

According to the federal official, Trudeau responded to Moe’s request for a pause on the carbon tax by calling it “not a fair ask.” She said Trudeau offered “open-ended” support for farmers, the energy sector and other affected industries in Saskatchewan.

“From our perspective, it’s actually just a little bit unfortunate, we would say, that Moe used this opportunity to attack Ottawa, because at this moment people in Saskatchewan need us to work together to support them through tough economic times they’re having,” she said.

But Moe said he did make specific requests about the carbon tax. He reported bringing up the high costs farmers are now facing to dry grain using natural gas due to a wet harvest season, an issue NDP leader Ryan Meili has also raised in his own letter to the prime minister.

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Moe walked into the meeting with a set of demands he’d been articulating since the Liberals won a “We are also going to look at opportunities to expand our provincial autonomy ,” he said, promising to Scheer, who also represents a Saskatchewan riding, left his own meeting with Trudeau with a

Moe had been seeking a meeting with Trudeau since shortly after the federal election, which saw the Liberals swept out Moe travelled to Ottawa and met with Trudeau on Parliament Hill. In a scrum with reporters immediately after Moe said his government might also press for more autonomy , but the

“I asked for him to remove (the carbon tax), not just from grain drying, but broadly across all of our industries,” Moe explained in his interview with the Leader-Post. “But we did have a conversation using grain drying as example, and I asked him, if he’s going to do anything, at least remove it from there.”

Moe said he received no such commitment, though Trudeau was “happy to have the discussion.”

Neither side reported discussing rising signs of western separatism as such, though Moe said they talked about “the feeling of alienation” in Saskatchewan.

“I’m concerned that he doesn’t understand the true feeling of the people in the province, and the frustration that they have with the decisions and direction that he’s been making,” Moe said in the interview. “I’m very concerned about that, and I’m even more concerned that he doesn’t grasp the seriousness of the issue.”

Moe did note a few positives, however. He said the two leaders talked about the removal of Chinese restrictions on pork and beef. He also mentioned conversations about continuing work on trade policy and infrastructure investment.

The two leaders discussed a first ministers meeting “very briefly,” though no date or agenda was set.

But with no consensus on carbon pricing and no pipeline commitments beyond the Trans Mountain Expansion, Moe concluded that the prime minister’s election night commitment to support Alberta and Saskatchewan was “just words.”

“I don’t see any discernible action to speak of,” said Moe.

Meili, the provincial NDP leader, said the premier is letting Saskatchewan people down through his “all-or-nothing ultimatum approach.” He said it has failed to get results.

Asked about Moe’s autonomy comments, Meili said he’s concerned about “the overall approach of trying to push Canada away.”

In his view, the premier’s trade strategy has little credibility and shows a misunderstanding of international relations, while Kenney’s autonomy proposals would cost a great deal if copied in Saskatchewan.

He sad Moe is playing a “very dangerous” game.

“He’s trying to give people this false hope that we can go it alone in a way that’s actually going to harm the Saskatchewan economy,” said Meili. “He’s trying to sow these seeds of separatism and division. It’s very damaging to the fabric of a nation, and he’s doing it just for his own political gain. It’s very embarrassing to see.”

awhite-crummey@postmedia.com

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