‘A unified voice’: Premiers call for meeting with Trudeau as conference ends

Canada’s prime ministers ended a three-day annual meeting Wednesday by calling for a meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on infrastructure needs, from highways to housing.

British Columbia Prime Minister David Evey said, “Having a national strategy centered around infrastructure, including not just what we traditionally think of as highways, ports and railroads, but also community infrastructure, etc. It’s very important,” he said.

“Locals, without our federal partners, we can only get this far on our own.”

At the same time, the prime ministers warned that federal action on the issue should leave states more flexible to their own priorities.

“Who needs a true federal partnership? Please recognize all of our unique circumstances and needs,” said Manitoba’s Prime Minister’s Group Chair Heather Stephenson.

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The prime ministers have asked for more information on a replacement for the $33 billion Canadian infrastructure investment program that ended in March amid mounting pressure from inflation and supply chain problems.

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Alberta Premier Compares Clean Energy Transitions Between Provinces

Federal Infrastructure Minister Dominique Leblanc said last month that details of the Next Generation Fund program will be announced in the fall.

The prime ministers said other key infrastructure priorities would also include economic and trade corridors.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said, “For example, the last 50 or 100 miles into the port of Vancouver require investment.”

The prime ministers also raised issues such as competitiveness and measures against climate change.

While the U.S. government is providing funds to help transition to green energy under a law passed last year, Alberta’s Prime Minister Daniel Smith said it’s a different story in Canada.

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“The problem with the federal approach is that it’s all sticks and no carrots,” Smith said.

“We can meet green energy standards and hit emissions targets, but the economy must be growing.”

Atlantic states, in particular, expressed concern over the introduction of clean fuel regulations and called on Ottawa to offset some of the costs to consumers.

“Certainly we all want to do our part,” said Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Fury. “This is a matter of fairness and we all have an equal role to play.”

Prime Ministers also reiterated their concerns about the bail system. They called on Ottawa to comply with legislation that would make it harder to release bail for repeat offenders of violent crime.

The prime ministers met with representatives from the Canadian Association of Police Chiefs and called on the federal government to pass necessary legislation when parliament resumes in September.

© 2023 Canadian Press

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