Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe outlined what he believes to be are the priorities at the upcoming Council of the Federation (COF) meeting in Toronto.
The COF meeting is anticipated to address the state of federal-provincial-territorial relations in Canada.
“There was a number of premiers that reached out to myself as chair of (COF) after the very divisive results of the federal election and asked if was there an opportunity for premiers to come together and have some discussions … for the benefit of all regions of the nation,” Moe said on Thursday.
“I think everyone is coming in with an open mind to have a frank and fair discussion in light of the results that we saw on election night … And I look forward to the discussion that we’re going to have. And I’m hopeful. I’m truly hopeful that we are going to come to consensus as premiers across this nation on two or three items and provide that to our federal government with some direction.”
One of the three areas that Moe believes consensus can be achieved with premiers is recognizing that each province is uniquely suited to tackle climate change and that it is within the provincial jurisdiction to develop environmental policies to do so.
“We came to a virtual consensus in Saskatoon … last June at our (COF) meeting, that the provinces do have a role in the jurisdiction of their climate policy and the provinces do know best how to reduce emissions in their respective jurisdiction. And we most certainly will be discussing that again,” Moe said.
“We’re going to discuss it again as we have a case that is going to the Supreme Court of Canada with a large number of provinces that are supporting Saskatchewan’s position with respect to that case. Most certainly if we are able to, again, come to consensus on this topic, I would hope that the prime minister would listen.”
“This isn’t only Saskatchewan’s priority … I’m not going to preclude what British Columbia is going to say, what Quebec is going to say. They have premiers that are going to bring the views of their people. And I’m looking forward to the discussion.”
The second area is recognizing each province has concerns with federal environmental assessment legislation.
“(Quebec’s) the only province … there is nine of 10 provinces that have challenges with the current environmental assessment law as it stands. If it is to move forward in that current form, we’ll engage on the implementation of that, providing guidance on the implementation of (Bill C-69),” Moe said.
“I know Premier (Francois) Legault will come and have conversations in good faith and represent Quebec people … I’m looking forward to engaging with him. They also have issues with the current legislation as it sits with Bill C-69 in Quebec. As you know, Quebec has intervened on our carbon tax case as it heads to the Supreme Court of Canada and we’ll have good, good discussions.”
Lastly, Moe believes they can agree on proposing amendments to the fiscal stabilization formula to make it more responsive to the economic realities facing provinces.
“There’s a fiscal stabilization program, which is the program that is to be reactive when a province’s economic fortunes, if you will, change over a short period of time. And when you look at the fiscal stabilization program over the years, there has not been very many provinces that have qualified for funding from that program,” Moe said.
“The numbers actually say that there are three provinces where the GDP has actually dropped, the three provinces that have the lowest GDP growth over the course of the last five years are Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland … which is why the fiscal stabilization program was put together — to assist those provinces when they have a drastic shift in their economic fortunes.”
During a prior meeting with Justin Trudeau, Moe said the prime minister indicated a willingness to respect areas where premiers could achieve a consensus.
“I think the (COF) meeting whenever it comes together is a very important meeting and the consensus it’s a consensus table. So the direction that comes out of that meeting is very indicative of the direction that the federal government, whomever they are, not just in the current day, should be paying attention to and should be taking that as sound advice,” Moe said.
“This particular meeting, I would say, is an important meeting, a very important meeting for the reasons that it was called … So, yes, I believe this is an important meeting, as important as any (COF) meeting that for sure I’ve been a part of or has been held for some time.”
Canada’s premiers are scheduled to meet Dec. 1-2.