Premier Scott Moe says he did not meet with Justin Trudeau last week because he was only offered five minutes with the prime minister during a Saskatchewan stop.
Moe said the proposed short pull-aside meeting with Trudeau in Regina on Thursday would not have been sufficient to discuss the infrastructure fund, clean electricity standards and the Natural Resources Transfer Agreement. Moe was also scheduled to have meetings in Prince Albert that day.
“I wasn’t going to drive an eight-hour round trip to not fully discuss those three items as well as potentially some others,” Moe said at a news conference Monday.
The two leaders have not met in person during either of Trudeau’s two stops in the province so far this year and the federal Liberal government is often the target of Moe’s criticism on a range of topics.
In January, Moe expressed disappointment he was not made aware of Trudeau’s visit to a rare earth elements processing plant in Saskatoon.
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During the recent trip, Trudeau visited a grocery store and held a town hall at the First Nations University of Canada in the provincial capital. The prime minister said at the time that Moe’s office was notified in advance, but the two leaders weren’t able to meet because the premier was away.
Trudeau did commend the Saskatchewan Party government leader for working with Ottawa and other regions on child-care and health-care issues.
But Moe has been particularly critical of Liberal government’s environmental policies and their impact on Saskatchewan’s resource sector.
Moe released a policy paper last year highlighting his government’s plan to flex its autonomy and the provincial government has passed autonomy legislation meant to reassert Saskatchewan’s control over natural resources.
“Contrary to what some in this room may think, I don’t get up in the morning and the first thought through my mind is ‘I wonder how I can disagree with the prime minister and the federal government today,’” Moe said during a speech at the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association convention in Saskatoon on Monday.
“And that might surprise a few of you.”
Moe said despite many disagreements, his Saskatchewan Party government will work with Ottawa when it is in the best interest of the province.
Daniel Westlake, a political studies assistant professor at the University of Saskatchewan, said the lack of in-person meetings is a symptom of a “problematic relationship.”
He said the provincial and federal governments have different interests and political ideologies. Ottawa is focused on fighting climate change in ways that will affect natural resources in Saskatchewan, while Moe’s government has defined itself as a defender of resource development.
“There are these underlying conflicts there and they are manifesting themselves in animosity between the premier and the prime minister.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 17, 2023.
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