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Pipelines, western alienation: Trudeau and Manitoba premier meet in Ottawa

Last Updated Nov 8, 2019 at 10:06 am PDT

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets with Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister in his office on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Friday, Nov. 8, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Trudeau and Pallister met in Ottawa to discuss climate change, pipelines and western alienation

In their first meeting since the federal election, the two leaders were cordial but had some key issues to discuss

OTTAWA — Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister says the fight against climate change can unite this country even as it currently is fuelling talk of Alberta separation.

Pallister was in Ottawa today to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and climate change, pipelines and western alienation were critical parts of the conversation.

Trudeau’s relationship with many provincial premiers has been tense, particularly over his decision to impose a price on pollution in any province without an equivalent system of its own, including Manitoba.

Pallister opposes Trudeau’s plan, but not carbon taxes in general and is still hoping the prime minister will allow provinces to create their own plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

He is, however, trying to set himself up as the middle man who could broker a truce between Trudeau and the more strident premiers like Alberta’s Jason Kenney and Saskatchewan’s Scott Moe.

He says Trudeau’s partisan nature and insistence on carbon taxes done his way created divisions about climate change action during the recent federal election rather than finding ways to unite the country behind this critical issue.

In their first meeting since the federal election, the two leaders were cordial but discussed crucial issues. The Trans Mountain pipeline appeared to be top of mind for Trudeau. He is stressing the expansion needs to get built.

“Continue to invest, to grow opportunities for Manitobans, people across the country, through infrastructure,” he said Friday.

Pall linked construction of the pipeline to the issue of western separation, saying it would go a long way to dampen debates around alienation and equalization. While anger is growing in Alberta and Saskatchewan, Pallister said again that he wants to focus on national unity.

“We are the keystone province, we believe in this country, we’re Canadians first in Manitoba,” he said.