Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s fourth summit with premiers and promises to be the most turbulent. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s fourth summit with premiers and promises to be the most turbulent. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

First ministers’ meeting likely to be most fractious, least productive for PM

MONTREAL — By the time he wraps up his day-long talk fest with provincial and territorial leaders, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau may well rue the day he promised to hold first ministers’ meetings annually.

Friday’s closed-door gathering is Trudeau’s fourth summit with premiers and promises to be the most turbulent — and likely the least productive.

Gone are the days when he was surrounded by friendly provincial Liberal allies. Now, he’s facing a phalanx of conservative premiers who are putting up determined opposition to some of his signature policies, in particular his plan to impose a federal carbon tax next year.

And one of them — Ontario Premier Doug Ford — has vowed to ensure Trudeau’s Liberals are defeated in next fall’s federal election. Federal officials privately believe that will include efforts to derail Friday’s meeting, potentially even staging a dramatic walkout — a scenario Ford and his aides did not rule out Thursday.

But it’s not just conservative premiers who are bound to cause headaches for the prime minister. He’s got Liberal and New Democrat premiers who also have bones to pick with the federal government.

They are all showing up to Fridays’s meeting with a laundry list of issues they want addressed, but no agreement among themselves about which are most pressing or what should be done about them.

For instance, New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs wants to revive a proposal for an Energy East pipeline. Quebec’s Francois Legault says there’s no way Quebecers will ever approve a pipeline through their province.

Alberta’s NDP premier, Rachel Notley, is furiously demanding federal action to help her province get its oil to tidewater for shipment to overseas markets, rather than being captive to the discount price paid by the United States.

She and Saskatchewan’s Scott Moe want the oil price crisis to top the agenda for Friday’s meeting. They also want Trudeau to scrap Bill C-69, legislation to beef up environmental assessments of energy projects.

Their concern that C-69 will scare off investors in things such as pipeline projects is shared by Newfoundland and Labrador’s Dwight Ball and Nova Scotia’s Stephen McNeil, both Liberals.

But then there’s British Columbia’s NDP Premier, John Horgan, who has gone to court to stop the one pipeline project Trudeau’s government has approved — the Trans Mountain expansion.

Four conservative premiers — Ford, Moe, Higgs and Manitoba’s Brian Pallister — have also gone to court but, in their case, it’s to stop what they refer to as Trudeau’s “job-killing carbon tax.” They want to push the issue to the forefront of the agenda.

Trudeau can expect to get some back up on that front from Horgan and Legault, whose provinces were the first to impose carbon regimes and, as federal officials like to point out, currently enjoy the most robust economies in the country.

Environmentalists, meanwhile, are planning to gather outside the hotel where the first ministers are meeting to urge the leaders to do more to combat climate change.

Amid the myriad issues premiers want to discuss and their conflicting views on them, the original objective Trudeau set for the meeting — reducing interprovincial trade barriers — is bound to get short shrift.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Lieutenant Commander Nicole Robichaud welcomes Members of the Liberian Coast Guard aboard Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) MONCTON for training with Royal Canadian Navy off the coast of Monrovia, Liberia, Africa on NEPTUNE TRIDENT on March 25, 2017. (Contributed photo by Corp. Ryan Moulton).
Red Deer-raised woman finds her sea legs as commander in the Royal Canadian Navy

Cdr. Nicole Robichaud started out as a local sea cadet

A local photographer captured the contrails of two planes that crossed in the sky over north Red Deer on Wednesday. (Photo contributed by Eric Fischer)
Photo: Planes criss-cross over Red Deer

A local photographer captured the contrails of two planes that crossed in… Continue reading

Leader of the Opposition Erin O’Toole responds to a question during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday March 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canadian Taxpayers Association slams federal conservative carbon tax plan

The Canadian Taxpayers Association doesn’t agree with the Conservative Party of Canada’s… Continue reading

Courtesy photo
Average rent in Red Deer increased in March and over past year

Rent in Red Deer keeps rising. Since 2019, the average monthly rent… Continue reading

Red Deer Public Schools will not pilot the new draft curriculum at its elementary schools. (File photo contributed by Red Deer Public Schools)
UPDATED: Red Deer Public Schools says no to piloting new curriculum

Alberta Teachers’ Association support school boards

A for sale sign is shown in by new homes in Beckwith, Ont., just outside Ottawa, on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canadian home sales up 76% year-over-year, set new March record: CREA

Canadian home sales up 76% year-over-year, set new March record: CREA

WestJet president and CEO Ed Sims addresses the airline's annual meeting in Calgary, Tuesday, May 7, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
WestJet CEO Ed Sims finds Air Canada aid package ‘bittersweet’ as talks drag on

WestJet CEO Ed Sims finds Air Canada aid package ‘bittersweet’ as talks drag on

The TMX broadcast centre is shown in Toronto on May 9, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese
S&P/TSX composite, Dow Jones and S&P 500 set record highs as mood rises on economy

S&P/TSX composite, Dow Jones and S&P 500 set record highs as mood rises on economy

Rode
Feddema adds size and grit to RDC basketball Queens

Iris Feddema has known for several years what she wanted her future… Continue reading

A man wearing a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 checks his phone as the sun sets in English Bay in Vancouver on April 5, 2021. Canada's existing mobile phone services and consumer groups will get a landmark ruling from the CRTC this afternoon. The regulatory ruling could shift some of the market power held by Rogers, Bell and Telus, which collectively have more than 90 per cent of the country's subscribers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
CRTC to allow smaller wireless players better access to national networks

CRTC to allow smaller wireless players better access to national networks

In this photo taken Sunday, May 17, 2020, U.S. and Canadian flags fly atop the Peace Arch at Peace Arch Historical State Park on the border with Canada in Blaine, Wash. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Elaine Thompson
A electric car is seen getting charged at parking lot in Tsawwassen, near Vancouver B.C., April, 6, 2018. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
‘Wrong signal:’ Federal ministers protest Saskatchewan’s electric vehicle tax

Two federal ministers are protesting Saskatchewan’s plan to bring in a tax… Continue reading

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s charities are looking to next week’s federal budget with hopes the Liberals will extend their sector a helping hand as they face the possibility of a prolonged and protracted road to recovery even after the economy reopens. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Charities hope Liberals’ budget lends helping hand as sector eyes long recovery

OTTAWA — Canada’s charities are hoping the Liberals extend them a helping… Continue reading

Most Read