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)

(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

Interior Health nurses administer Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to seniors and care aids in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Kelowna Capital News)
69 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

The total number of cases in the region is now at 9,840 since the pandemic began

Kelowna General Hospital (File photo)
Interior Health hospitals not strained by rising COVID case counts

While provincial hospitalizations rise, health care systems in the B.C. Interior remain robust, say officials

School District 20 is advising the public there has been a positive case of COVID-19 at the Trail high school. Photo: Trail Times
District confirms positive COVID case at Trail high school

The person is at home self-isolating, administration advised on Wednesday

Nelson-Creston MLA Brittny Anderson will advise Premier John Horgan in youth issues and needs. Photo: Submitted
Nelson-Creston MLA named premier’s special advisor on youth

Brittny Anderson is the youngest member of the B.C. legislature

COVID-19 numbers continue to rise in the Kootenays. Illustration: BC Centre for Disease Control
Highest weekly number of new COVID-19 cases in 2021 for Nelson

The Nelson local health area had 13 new cases in early April

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as he walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Top doctor warns B.C.’s daily cases could reach 3,000 as COVID hospitalizations surge

There are more than 400 people in hospital, with 125 of them in ICU

A crossing guard stops traffic as students wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 arrive at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. A number of schools in the Fraser Health region, including Woodward Hill, have reported cases of the B.1.7.7 COVID-19 variant first detected in the U.K. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-infected students in Lower Mainland schools transmitting to 1 to 2 others: data

Eight to 13 per cent of COVID cases among students in the Lower Mainland were acquired in schools, B.C. says

Norm Scott, president of Royal Canadian Legion Branch # 91, is disappointed the Legion does not qualify for COVID financial assistance from the provincial government. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C.’s pandemic aid package passing Legion branches by

Federal non-profit status stymies provincial assistance eligibility

Latest modelling by public health shows cases generated by COVID-19 infections into places where it can spread quickly. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
Industrial sites, pubs, restaurants driving COVID-19 spread in B.C.

Infection risk higher in offices, retail, warehouses, farms

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller said it would be “very challenging and not very safe” for him and his teammates to play as scheduled on Friday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Canucks’ return to ice postponed again after players voice COVID health concerns

Friday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers was called off after the team met virtually with the NHLPA

B.C. Attorney General David Eby, Minister Responsible for Housing. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. announces $2B for affordable, middle-income family home projects

New HousingHub financing funds will encourage developers, groups – with low-interest loans – to build affordable homes

An Interior Health nurse administers Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to seniors and care aids in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. Photo: Phil McLachlan/Kelowna Capital News
COVID-19 cases rising in the East Kootenay: BC CDC

Cranbrook has highest case count since health officials began releasing weekly local data

Most Read