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Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland meets with Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson

Chrystia Freeland meets with Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson
WATCH ABOVE: Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland visited Edmonton to meet with Mayor Don Iveson on Jan. 6. As Vinesh Pratap reports, in the days ahead, she's going to venture into the province's conservative heartland.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story said Freeland and Iveson were holding a media availability that would be livestreamed. However, they only participated in a photo opportunity so there was no livestream. 

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland met once again with Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson on Monday. The two exchanged holiday greetings and pleasantries during their photo opportunity before the meeting at Edmonton City Hall, with Freeland noting it was Ukranian Christmas Eve.

Iveson thanked Freeland for having an open dialogue between local government leaders and Ottawa.

“It makes a huge difference to practical problem solving to be able to bring more people along by continuing these dialogues and working together,” Iveson said.

“So thank you so much for reaching out for this meeting and I appreciate the time even when you’re here as much socially and to see family as to do the business of the nation,” he added.

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READ MORE: ‘There is no job description:’ What exactly does a deputy prime minister do?

Freeland said she was looking forward to hearing more about the priorities of Edmonton. She also said they would talk about the new NAFTA.

“We now have fully concluded the deal and Canada’s job now is to ratify it,” Freeland said. “I’m looking forward to fully briefing the mayor on where we are and seeking his support in that effort. And also talking about the priorities of this amazing city.”

Freeland was asked about the tension in Iran after the country’s most prominent military commander was killed in a U.S. airstrike, but she did not answer any questions during the event.

Following the meeting, Freeland did not reappear but Iveson spoke to reporters. He said he told Freeland that he wants continued access to federal politicians.

Iveson said he voiced his concerns to Freeland during a meeting at Edmonton City Hall about some of the language from a provincial government “fair deal” panel intended to advance Alberta’s interests in Confederation.

READ MORE: Cost of a fair deal: experts break down Alberta government panel’s mandate

Iveson said some suggestions being considered by that panel would inhibit the ability of municipal leaders to work directly with their federal counterparts.

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He said federal and civic politicians have worked well together in the past and Canadians expect all levels of government to work together.

“I emphasized a concern with the one suggestion that’s in the fair deal literature about eliminating any opportunity for local governments to work directly with the federal government,” Iveson said.

Freeland said she would be meeting with Premier Jason Kenney in Calgary on Tuesday, before travelling to the Grande Prairie and Peace River areas to hear about rural concerns in the northwestern Alberta region.

Iveson and Freeland also met back at the end of November, days after the Alberta-born politician was named Prime Minster Justin Trudeau’s second in command and charged with focusing on western alienation.  She met with Kenney at that time as well.

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Iveson is also chair of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Big City Mayors’ Caucus, which send Trudeau a wish list for the Liberals’ first 100 days in office.

The list included requests to boost annual increases to the gas-tax fund, eliminate caps on funding for transit rehab projects, allow other spending to upgrade council chambers and administrative buildings and add $2 billion in new spending for projects that help communities adapt to climate change.

Deputy prime minister meets with Mayor Iveson in Edmonton
Deputy prime minister meets with Mayor Iveson in Edmonton

Freeland, who was formerly the minister of foreign affairs, was promoted to both deputy prime minister and minister of Intergovernmental Affairs in what was billed as an effort by the federal government to address deep regional divisions.

READ MORE: Kenney calls for Alberta economic support, end to CN Rail strike during Freeland meeting

Freeland is expected to visit Edmonton again in February.

With files from The Canadian Press.