Federal laws at heart of West’s anger up for debate, as Liberals begin outreach

Vancouver mayor to Trudeau’s western critics: ‘Get over yourselves’

(The Canadian Press)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau quickly backed up his pledge for more dialogue with the West, opening his Thursday meeting with Calgary’s mayor up to the two members of his government now entrusted with being ambassadors to the region.

Manitoba MP Jim Carr, who was named Wednesday as Trudeau’s special representative for the Prairies, and Chrystia Freeland, now deputy prime minister and minister of intergovernmental affairs, both sat in on the latest of Trudeau’s meetings with provincial and municipal officials from Western Canada in the wake of last month’s election.

The Liberals lost all their seats in Saskatchewan and Alberta in October. They also dropped three seats in Manitoba.

Carr, who was previously the minister for trade diversification, was also to attend Thursday’s first cabinet meeting, before embarking on his new task from Trudeau: making sure voices from the Prairies are heard in the capital.

“The message is we have to do a better job listening, communicating, sharing and developing a set of regional policies that fit into the strength of our federation and the objective is that there be a strong Western Canada in a united Canada and I think that’s my mandate,” Carr said.

One existing policy, however, is at the heart of much of the west’s anger: Bill C-69. It’s a contentious pieces of legislation overhauling the environmental assessment of major projects, which critics argue will further strangle natural resources development in red tape.

READ MORE: B.C. oil tanker ban squeaks through final vote in Senate

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said the group had a blunt conversation about the bill, but Trudeau did not promise anything specific.

“(Trudeau) said that he is interested in improving the system, and improving C-69,” he said.

“That means that I will continue to be a thorn in his side to make sure this thing works better.”

Nenshi’s discussions with Trudeau on the bill followed a meeting the prime minister had last week with Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe, where Trudeau first signalled his willingness to address the legislation.

But while Nenshi, and others, would like to see it amended, that’s unlikely. The Liberals intend to try and tackle proposed changes via regulation and how the bill’s provisions are eventually implemented.

While Carr and Freeland will bear responsibility for collecting and forwarding feedback from the West, primary responsibility for the legislation falls to the new environment minister, Jonathan Wilkinson. He took over the portfolio in Wednesday’s shuffle.

He said the meat of the law is policies and regulation.

“We’ve always said we’re open to conversations with stakeholders across the country as to how that’s going to be done in the most effective way,” he said.

“That’s not a change.”

Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart also met with Trudeau on Thursday morning, but he said there was no talk of western alienation.

Instead, Stewart said the two spoke about ways federal programs and funding could help Vancouver with the opioid crisis, affordable housing and transit issues.

He said other western leaders issuing tough talking points to the Trudeau Liberals should realize that they’re going to have to co-operate.

“Get over yourselves, get down to work, help your residents, get stuff built,” he said.

Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

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

Just Posted

City of Fernie recycles old concrete

Hadean Aggregate Solutions was in Fernie for three days recycling old concrete and asphalt

MP Morrison pushes for accountability following federal fiscal update

Kootenay-Columbia parliamentarian says it is time to restart the economy

UPDATED: Interior Health to add 495 long-term seniors care beds

Nelson, Kelowna, Kamloops, Vernon and Penticton to receive new facilities

No changes coming to Fernie’s Second Avenue

Following a public survey, council holds off on repurposing Second Avenue

Tourism ramps back up in the Elk Valley

Heading into phase three, Tourism Fernie kicks off various inititives supporting local businesses

B.C. records 62 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths since Friday

Province has just over 200 active cases

Commercial huckleberry harvesting restricted in Kootenays

The province of B.C. has banned commercial-scale picking from July 15 to October 15

Canadians torn on scaling back COVID-19 benefits to save money: poll

Of those surveyed, 78 per cent said they were worried about the size of the deficit

‘Trauma equals addiction’: Why some seek solace in illicit drugs

Part 2: Many pushed into addiction by ‘toxic stress,’ says White Rock psychologist

Hotel rooms for B.C. homeless too hasty, NDP government told

Businesses forced out, but crime goes down, minister says

Wage subsidy will be extended until December amid post-COVID reopening: Trudeau

Trudeau said the extension will ‘give greater certainty and support to businesses’

B.C. government prepares for COVID-19 economic recovery efforts

New measures after July consultation, Carole James says

Tree planters get help with COVID-19 protective measures

Ottawa funds extra transportation, sanitizing for crews

Most Read