Premier Jason Kenney left his Tuesday meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa feeling “realistic”.
We can be hopeful, perhaps. The word realistic doesn’t convey a promise to action, but is an obvious contrast to Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe’s disappointment after he met with the big boss last month.
Kenney told reporters that the pair had a frank conversation about the ongoing economic crisis in our province and the negative impact these challenges have on Canadian prosperity. He said he was appreciative that the PM listened and appeared responsive on a number of points.
Our premier has come a long way from May 2018 when he told Calgary Sun columnist Rick Bell: “I know Justin. He doesn't have a clue what he’s doing. This guy is an empty trust-fund millionaire who has the political depth of a finger bowl.”
It’s fair to assume - or be hopeful - that Kenney is no longer taking diplomacy pointers from U.S. President Donald Trump. He’s realized that lampooning the PM probably isn’t the best tactic for pushing his agenda. Even toddlers playing in a sandbox know you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.
The premier wasn’t shy about his big asks for Trudeau either. In fact, he wanted all of Ottawa to know why he was there. His party shelled out big dollars into a front page advertisement that appeared in Postmedia’s Ottawa Citizen on the same day of his meeting.
The ad - with the headline “A Fair Deal for Alberta within Canada” detailed Kenney’s agenda for the visit. Call it a Christmas list of sorts. The asks include securing a fixed completion date for the Trans Mountain Expansion Project, equalization rebate, C-48 (tanker ban) and C-69 (“no more pipelines” act), flow-through shares and equivalency agreements.
The newspaper chain is no stranger to endorsing Canadian conservative politics. Savvy readers have seen it before, might disregard it and be quick to look away or turn the page. Readers, however, might become more aware of the dilemma that is Alberta’s economic climate and the precarious burden it places on Canada as a whole. Perhaps the agenda - out in the open - might evoke coffee shop chatter and garner more Canadians on our side of the coin.
On December 2 all 13 provincial and territorial leaders met in Mississauga, Ontario with Trudeau and agreed on a radical re-tooling to the fiscal stabilization program that helps provinces facing a short-term cash crunch. Based on the outcome of this meeting it sounds like other leaders are on board.
Despite the fractious federal election result, that returned a Liberal minority government with almost no representation from Alberta or Saskatchewan, it appears that we can all play nice in the sandbox if we want to. National unity and collective success should be on everyone’s Christmas list this year. Let’s do more listening and less talking.