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

QUIZ: Are you ready for a summer road trip?

How much do you really know about roads, motor vehicles and car culture? Take this quiz to find out.

COVID-19 cases identified in Kelowna, after public gatherings

Those who were downtown or at the waterfront from June 25 to July 6 maybe have been exposed to COVID-19.

COVID-19: Vernon Towne Cinema back in action!

Movie lovers rejoice, the historic theatre has reopened with safety protocols in place

Vernon shutterbugs capture rainbow

A rain event July 9 made way for a glorious sight

Fundraiser kicks off for Lake Country families displaced by house fire

A GoFundMe campaign has been launched to raise $5K for those who lost everything in early morning blaze

COVID-19: Homeless to be relocated from temporary Okanagan shelter

Homeless shelters in Vernon have been combined into one site at the curling rink since April

Dozens of fish die at popular lake near Chase

A few natural phenomena are possible causes for their deaths.

Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Grocers appear before MPs to explain decision to cut pandemic pay

Executives from three of Canada’s largest grocery chains have defended their decision to end temporary wage increases

Bringing support to Indigenous students and communities, while fulfilling a dream

Mitacs is a nonprofit organization that operates research and training programs

RCMP ‘disappointed’ by talk that race a factor in quiet Rideau Hall arrest

Corey Hurren, who is from Manitoba, is facing 22 charges

NHL’s Canadian hubs offer little economic benefit, but morale boost is valuable: experts

Games are slated to start Aug. 1 with six Canadian teams qualifying for the 24-team resumption of play

Most Read