Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets with the Mayor of Edmonton, Don Iveson in West block on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Friday November 29, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Edmonton mayor says he can help Trudeau deal with angry western premiers

Don Iveson meets with PM in Ottawa ahead of premiers’s meeting in Toronto

Edmonton’s mayor, who has met three times with the prime minister since election day, is pushing his fellow municipal leaders as potential mediators to smooth over relations between the federal Liberal government and angry western premiers.

Don Iveson said much of the anger on the Prairies is coming from economic uncertainty.

He said the concerns from Albertans, for instance, pointed to a need for what he called “strategic partnerships” to avoid divisiveness that is being “exploited for narrow and short-term political reasons.”

Cities, he said, could help “depolarize” some of that heated rhetoric and push for practical solutions.

Iveson said cities were best suited to play that role because they were the level of government closest to people that “has to deliver practical solutions and can’t get away with blaming others for the real complexities and challenges we’re dealing with.”

Iveson made the comments after a session in Justin Trudeau’s Parliament Hill office, which marked the latest in a series of meetings the prime minister is holding with municipal leaders as the Liberals figure out how to make their infrastructure dreams a reality — and respond to western Canadians who feel left out of the federation.

“The partnerships we’ve had in Edmonton on infrastructure, on fighting homelessness, on housing have been significant, but there’s always more to do,” Trudeau said at the start of the meeting. ”We recognize, obviously, there is real anxiety and real frustration out in Alberta from people who have been having a really tough go of it over these past years.”

That sense of alienation and frustration was amplified by the Oct. 21 federal election, which returned the Liberals to power with a minority government, but stripped them of all their seats in Saskatchewan and Alberta.

Iveson said the Liberals could alleviate some of that frustration by moving ahead with the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion — something he said the prime minister personally assured him was going to happen.

The Liberals bought the pipeline in 2018 from Kinder Morgan for $4.5 billion after the company’s investors got cold feet over ongoing political opposition that delayed work. Delays in getting it built have fuelled anger at Trudeau’s government, including legislation that Albertans blame for economic woes in the energy sector.

“When shovels go in the ground … that will quell some of the anxiety because I think they did mean it all along and it’s actually a shame that there’s still some doubt about that,” said Iveson.

READ MORE: Federal laws at heart of West’s anger up for debate, as Liberals begin outreach

Iveson said Trudeau seemed open to ideas from western mayors when it comes to economic development, which he discussed in the meeting alongside Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna and Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, who is tasked with steering relations with provinces.

Premiers are set to meet next week in the Toronto area. Trudeau has been meeting with several of them since the election, including Ontario’s Doug Ford, Manitoba’s Brian Pallister and Saskatchewan’s Scott Moe.

Jordan Press, The Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey RCMP not seeing ‘significant loss’ in ranks because of COVID-19

Surrey Mounties say they have a good tracking system to keep tabs on police officers experiencing an illness

Supreme Court upholds White Rock council decision on Lady Alexandra development

Planned 12-storey highrise on lower Johnston Road was stalled in 2018

No final high school game for Surrey all-stars; six scholarship winners named

COVID-19 forces cancellation of all-star games for boys and girls at Enver Creek gym April 3

‘Potentially life-threatening’ injuries in South Surrey crash

152 Street closed in both directions between Colebrook Road and 40 Avenue

B.C. records five new COVID-19 deaths, ‘zero chance’ life will return to normal in April

Province continue to have a recovery rate of about 50 per cent

World COVID-19 update: NATO suspicious of Russian military drills; Cruise ships ordered to stay at sea

Comprehensive update of coronavirus news from around the world for Wednesday, April 1

John Horgan extends B.C.’s state of emergency for COVID-19

Premier urges everyone to follow Dr. Bonnie Henry’s advice

B.C.’s first community COVID-19 death was dentist ‘dedicated’ to health: lawyer

Vincent was 64 when he died on March 22 after attending the Pacific Dental Conference

UPDATE: 6.5-magnitude earthquake in Idaho shakes B.C. Interior

An earthquake was reportedly felt just before 5 p.m. throughout the Okanagan

Two inmates at prison housing Robert Pickton test positive for COVID-19

Correctional Service of Canada did not release any details on the identities of the inmates

BC heart surgery patient rarely leaves home

James Jepson is especially vulnerable to the novel coronavirus

BC SPCA launches matching campaign to help vulnerable animals after big donations

Two BC SPCA donors have offered up to $65,000 in matching donations

Anti-tax group calls for MPs, senators to donate scheduled pay raises to charity

Bill C-30, adopted 15 years ago, mandates the salary and allowance increases each calendar year

Most Read