First ministers meet in Ottawa to discuss climate change, health care

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WATCH ABOVE: Joe Biden visits Ottawa to discuss climate change and health care – Dec 8, 2016

OTTAWA – A day-long meeting of first ministers on finalizing a pan-Canadian climate plan is off to a fractious start.

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall is flatly asserting he won’t be signing any agreement today on a national carbon price, while BC’s Christy Clark says elements of the deal may have to be set aside for further assessment.

Wall is dead set against a federally imposed tax on carbon dioxide emissions, saying Ottawa has failed to provide an economic analysis of the biggest tax change in a generation.

READ MORE: Canadian business leaders urge federal government, provinces to act on climate change

Clark, meanwhile, says she can’t agree to an escalating national carbon price when Quebec and Ontario’s cap-and-trade system would mean lower carbon prices per tonne in one part of the country.

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The premiers also want to extract greater health care funding from the Liberal government, but several say they won’t be linking the two crucial issues of climate change and health spending during today’s talks.

The first ministers will have a special guest. U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden will be joining the first ministers to talk about Canada-U.S. relations as president-elect Donald Trump gears up to take over the White House.

READ MORE: US Vice-President Joe Biden in Ottawa for final official visit

Biden didn’t mention Trump’s election victory when he spoke Thursday night at a dinner in Ottawa, but the vice-president did say liberals around the world would be looking to Trudeau to champion their beliefs in the coming years.

“The world’s going to spend a lot of time looking to you, Mr. Prime Minister, as we see more and more challenges to the Liberal international order,” Biden said. “There’s a lot of soul searching going on in Europe and you saw some of it in my country.”

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