Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says there’s a lesson for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the success of former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper’s two terms of minority government: you need to listen.
Kenney, a former Conservative cabinet minister in Harper’s governments, is in Ottawa this week with eight of his cabinet ministers for two days of meetings. Kenney is meeting with Alberta MPs and party leaders while his cabinet ministers are sitting down with their federal counterparts and industry officials in a bid to convince the capital’s power brokers to act on key issues affecting the Alberta economy.
But at the federal level, few of those power brokers are from Alberta. In the October election, voters threw out all Alberta Liberal MPs, leaving the only voices in the House of Commons for that province on the Opposition benches.
Kenney met Tuesday morning with the 33 Conservative MPs from Alberta, who he said will advance the cause, even from the other side of the aisle.
“Any government in a minority has to listen to all the opposition parties because you never know when you are going to need the support of one on a particular issue,” he said as he walked down an Ottawa street with Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer at his side.
“That’s the lesson of Stephen Harper’s successful two-term minority so hopefully they will have an influence on some of these issues.”
Kenney and Scheer met in Scheer’s Parliament Hill offices earlier Tuesday, where Kenney said they discussed the issues he’s hoping to advance with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in their meeting later in the day.
It’s the first time Kenney and Trudeau will meet face-to-face since the election. Kenney had made the case for months leading up to the vote that the Liberals were — at their peril — ignoring the concerns of the West but the election result brought the reality of that anger to the fore.
Now Kenney is seeking to channel that anger for good, bringing Trudeau a list of five demands he says must be met to get the Alberta and Canadian economies back up to speed.
They include changes to a federal payment program that tops up provincial revenues, amendments to environment regulations and a firm deadline to get the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion functioning.
Kenney said Monday that while federal-provincial relations have been tense, he wants to be able to find common ground with the Trudeau government.
He pointed to last week’s meeting of provincial and territorial premiers, and the consensus they arrived at on issues including pipelines and federal funding, as proof there is room for Trudeau to harness existing goodwill.
“Peace in the land is breaking out on some of these issues, and if I was the federal government I would take that as a pretty strong prompt, a nudge, to deliver,” he said.
Kenney is nearly the last of the premiers to meet with Trudeau since the federal election. Ahead of his sit down Tuesday, Trudeau is meeting with the premier of Nova Scotia, and is expected to sit down with the premier of Quebec soon.
Along with deputy ministers and other senior officials, the ministers on the trip are:
- Travis Toews, President of Treasury Board and Minister of Finance
- Jason Nixon, Minister of Environment and Parks
- Sonya Savage, Minister of Energy
- Jason Copping, Minister of Labour and Immigration
- Devin Dreeshen, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry
- Doug Schweitzer, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General
- Rick Wilson, Minister of Indigenous Relations
- Rebecca Schulz, Minister of Children’s Services
— With files from Karen Bartko, Global News