Alberta Senator Doug Black has invited Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to the province to see first hand the devastation caused by the federal government.
Black said Wednesday he was in northern Alberta just before the holiday season and saw and heard stories of the pain and anxiety caused to Albertans by federal policies.
“I had the opportunity to visit Grande Prairie and talk to a number of folks in Fort McMurray, and I was absolutely depressed, actually, by the conversations I had by the pain that’s being felt, by the anxiety that’s been risen in the communities simply because of federal policies,” he said.
He wants the prime minister to hold a cabinet meeting in the province to see and hear the same stories, to understand the extent of the problem.
“I want them to talk to social service agencies. I want them to talk to government officials, the business folks. I want them to talk to school teachers to see what’s happening in schools,” he said.
Black said with no Alberta representation in the federal cabinet, there’s a void – and that’s a problem.
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland and Winnipeg MP Jim Carr, who is the “special representative for the Prairies,” aren’t enough to bridge the gap, he charged.
“The deputy prime minister, Ms. Freeland, is mandated to keep in touch with Alberta. And Mr. Carr is mandated to keep in touch, but with respect, that doesn’t get it done. There needs to be someone who is intimately involved with Alberta and Alberta issues,” he said.
The invitation will also provide an opportunity to sit down with the prime minister and the cabinet ministers to figure out an effective way to bridge the divide, the senator said.
Black has recommended Grande Prairie and Fort McMurray for the visit in his letter to the prime minister.
But Red Deer would be just as powerful for the session, said Black, who is in the city about once or twice a year, and hears people’s stories about the downturn in the economy.
“Red Deer would be a very good choice as well, simply because you’ve been very, very devastated with the downturn in the energy industry.
“We all understand that we have to achieve a balance between prosperity and the demands of climate change. And we understand we can do that without shutting down the oil and gas door.
“And that’s what I want the PM and the cabinet ministers to hear.”
The senator is hoping the cabinet meeting could be scheduled before March.