Trudeau’s opponents: One gives him an earful, another seeks common ground

PM meets with Conservative leader Andrew Scheer and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets with Conservative leader Andrew Scheer in his office on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe’s back-to-back meetings with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Tuesday yielded little by way of results in the seemingly elusive search for national unity in the wake of a divisive federal election.

With the House of Commons scheduled to return on Dec. 5, Scheer lobbed the ball into Trudeau’s court for ensuring the throne speech attracts enough support to keep the government standing, while Moe suggested it appears time for his province to find a way to play the game on its own.

Moe said he arrived in Ottawa in good faith to hear how Trudeau planned to make good on a promise he made on election night: that he understood and would address the frustrations of voters in Alberta and Saskatchewan who elected not a single Liberal MP between them on Oct. 21.

“I came today to hear about what he was going to do differently to support the industries and the people in our province and I can tell you this — I did not hear that there is going to be anything different, there is going to be more of the same,” a visibly upset Moe told reporters after the meeting.

Before it began, Trudeau had suggested it was going to be a tough discussion, noting there are many areas in which the two do not agree.

“There are a number of things we’re going to be able to work together on,” he said, however. “We both understand our shared responsibility to do things that strengthen the country every step of the way.”

Moe walked into the meeting with a set of demands he’d been articulating since the Liberals won a minority government: a one-year pause on the federal carbon tax in Saskatchewan, a reworked equalization formula and more overseas oil markets opened by completing pipelines beyond the Trans Mountain project.

He got commitments for none of these, Moe said, and it’s time for his province to find another path forward.

Saskatchewan will continue its court challenge to the federal carbon tax and increase outreach to global trading partners, he added.

Scheer, who also represents a Saskatchewan riding, left his own meeting with Trudeau with a slightly more optimistic tone.

After their conversation, he suggested he and Trudeau see eye-to-eye on subjects both parties made promises on during the campaign: making maternal and parental benefits tax-free, funding public transit in Toronto, and other tax cuts. Trudeau has long said his first move in the new Parliament will be to introduce tax cuts.

Scheer said he’ll wait to see whether that agreement is reflected in the throne speech. A Commons vote to approve it as a general plan for governing is considered a measure of confidence. With a minority government, the opposition parties could easily trigger an election by voting to reject it.

“It’s up to Mr. Trudeau to find common ground to get his throne speech passed,” Scheer told reporters.

“I highlighted the areas we would be focusing on, the parts of our platform that we believe should be implemented, and it’s up to him to decide what to do with that.”

READ MORE: ‘Wexit’ talk percolates day after Liberals returned to power with minority

Trudeau is expected to meet the leaders of the other opposition parties in the coming days.

The Canadian Press

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