Notley meets PM and federal cabinet in southern Alberta to push for pipelines, EI changes

Click to play video: 'Notley addresses reporters after meeting PM, federal cabinet in Kananaskis'
Notley addresses reporters after meeting PM, federal cabinet in Kananaskis
WATCH ABOVE: Premier Rachel Notley addresses the media following a meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet. Notley says pipelines, climate change strategy and EI benefits were among the topics discussed – Apr 25, 2016

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet at their retreat in Kananaskis, Alta. on Sunday and where the premier said she brought up a number of issues important to Albertans as they continue to struggle under an ailing economy.

“My purpose in coming here was simply to talk about the economic situation that Alberta finds itself in, to talk with the cabinet about the issue around on one hand the relationship between pipelines and also to talk in much detail about our climate change leadership plan,” Notley said.

“We also had a chance to speak about the EI situation and we asked them to consider reviewing that matter as it relates to the city of Edmonton.”

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“Notley has her wishlist,” Duane Bratt, chair and professor in Mount Royal University’s Department of Policy Studies, said. “She wants to know where the infrastructure spending is going in Alberta, she wants to get Edmonton included in the expanded EIs and stuff around pipelines, pipelines and pipelines.”

Watch below: Alberta Premier Rachel Notley met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet in Kananaskis, Alta. on Sunday. As Vassy Kapelos reports, the two sat down to talk about the state of Alberta’s economy and what can be done about it.

Click to play video: 'Premier Notley meets Prime Minister Trudeau in Kananaskis Country'
Premier Notley meets Prime Minister Trudeau in Kananaskis Country

Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr didn’t offer any indication there would be a fast-tracking of approval for three currently-proposed pipelines, but said his government was aware of “how important the energy sector is for Canada and for Alberta; we know that the sector is going through a very difficult time at the moment.”

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“We want to move our natural resources to tidewater sustainably and we’ve announced a set of principles that will guide us along that way,” Carr said.

Trudeau and his inner circle spent the weekend meeting in the mountain resort area about an hour west of Calgary which included a meeting with Alberta’s premier.

Notley is currently trying to steer her province through a cataclysmic decline in oil prices and expecting to run a $10-billion deficit this year.

READ MORE: Trudeau and Notley to talk pipelines at K-Country retreat

With speculation swirling as to why the Liberals’ retreat was being held in southern Alberta and why they plan to meet with Notley, Bratt said it made perfect sense for Trudeau to meet Alberta’s premier.

“Why wouldn’t he?” he says.”Notley’s a major premier (in) one of the biggest provinces and a province that’s having economic trouble – why wouldn’t the prime minister be here?”

“We wanted to be here in Alberta,” Finance Minister Bill Morneau said Sunday. “To understand better the challenges.”

READ MORE: Trudeau agrees Alberta needs help after ‘rapid change and significant shock’ from falling oil prices

Notley has recently had some blunt words for Trudeau and his government, calling for a plan to have a pipeline built that would transport Alberta oilsands bitumen to tidewater and demanding a resolution on Edmonton’s exclusion from Ottawa’s recent expansion of access to EI benefits.

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READ MORE: Trudeau won’t say why Edmonton was left out of EI extensions in federal budget 2016

“We called on you (federal government) to improve employment insurance, and you made progress. But you also have to do better,” Notley said in a televised address to Albertans on April 7. “The decision to exclude Edmonton and surrounding communities from EI improvements needs to be fixed.”

On Sunday, Morneau also said he stands by the formula through which his government determined which areas of the country were able to access supplemental EI benefits but seemed to leave open the possibility of making an adjustment to Edmonton’s exclusion.

“That’s where we’re at right now and I appreciate that Premier Notley, you know, is anxious to make sure that people across the province are well served.”

READ MORE: ‘I won’t let up. We must get to ‘yes’ on a pipeline’: Tough words for Ottawa in Notley TV address

Despite the tough talk, Bratt said he believed Notley and Trudeau get along and suggests they have the potential to have a mutually-beneficial political relationship.

“I think they have a very good relationship and I think especially when you saw what happened at the NDP convention in Edmonton, I think Notley’s happier that Trudeau is in power than Thomas Mulcair,” he said.

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Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi, a former Edmonton city councillor, said he is optimistic infrastructure money will start flowing to his home province soon.

“We are working with them (Alberta government) to sign bilateral agreements as quickly as possible and our goal is not to lose this construction season,” he said.

While visiting Edmonton in February, Trudeau spoke about plans to fast-track infrastructure spending to create jobs in Alberta, whose provincial economy has been battered by the staggering drop in the price of oil since the summer of 2014.

With Alberta’s oil and gas industry struggling, many questions remain unanswered about how Canada’s participation in the Paris accord on climate change will impact Alberta’s energy sector.

READ MORE:Trudeau signs Paris climate treaty at UN, says ‘Canada’s efforts will not cease’

On Friday, Trudeau joined world leaders to formally ratify the treaty, which is expected to see Canada reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions by 30 per cent over the coming decades.

With files from The Canadian Press.

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