Trudeau as PM will be improvement over Harper: Stephen McNeil

HALIFAX – Premier Stephen McNeil said the new federal Liberal government is good news for the province.

“We have a national Liberal government. The fact we have such a strong group of Liberal MPs will help us put our agenda on the national scene,” he said.

McNeil, who campaigned with Trudeau during stops in Halifax, called Trudeau on Tuesday to congratulate him on his win.

He expects his relationship with the feds to be different now that Harper has been ousted.

“[Harper] was difficult to deal with. Minister MacKay was easy for me to deal with. [Harper] was just not meeting with premiers as a group. He would do a one-off periodically and that was always challenging,” he said.
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“If you’re sitting down and having a conversation, obviously things have to improve. That’s a much better starting point than where we were.”

Cabinet members Minister Tony Ince and Minister Joanne Bernard echoed similar comments during Darren Fisher’s election party on Monday.

McNeil said he plans to push the immigration file and increase the number of immigrants to the province. He also expects to push healthcare issues, such as improvements to Dartmouth General Hospital, and childcare.

“The fact the federal government will be at the table now allows us to have a much fuller discussion about the country,” he said.

As for whether he will miss Stephen Harper? McNeil didn’t answer directly.

“I was out campaigning for a change, Trudeau. I’m looking forward to working with him,” he said.

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