Western alienation goes to Ottawa as Andrew Scheer and Scott Moe meet with Trudeau
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau got a firsthand blast of Western angst on Tuesday as he heard the complaints of Conservative leader Andrew Scheer and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe in separate private meetings.
With the Liberals planning to unveil a Throne Speech on Dec. 5, Trudeau will be meeting with opposition parties this week to look for common ground that will help keep his minority government propped up. The House is expected to sit for about seven days to take care of some routine business and introduce a middle-class tax cut, before breaking for the holidays.
For his meeting, Moe said he arrived in Ottawa in good faith to hear how Trudeau planned to make good on a promise he made on election night: that he understood and would address the frustrations of voters in Alberta and Saskatchewan who elected not a single Liberal MP between them on Oct. 21.
“I can tell you this, I did not hear that there was going to be anything different. I heard more of the same,” a disgruntled Moe told reporters after the meeting.
Moe brought the carbon tax to the top of the agenda as he met with Trudeau. Saskatchewan has been pursuing a legal case against the federal policy, arguing that it infringes on provincial jurisdiction.
Moe was also vocal about the carbon tax in his media availability after the meeting with Trudeau, saying he had asked Trudeau to “pause” the tax, which the prime minister rebuffed.
“We don’t see a commitment with respect to moving forward and putting a pause on the federally imposed carbon tax on industries in the provinces,” said Moe. “We have had a very trying harvest in Saskatchewan… there are some farmers that will have some very large carbon tax bills that are coming on the grain-drying costs.”
Moe also complained about the equalization program, saying it was unfair to provinces like Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador. His neighbour to the west, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, has threatened to hold a provincial referendum that would force a negotiation on the federal equalization program if the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion isn’t built.
Moe said the issue of “getting our goods to market,” was the third item he raised with Trudeau.