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With regards to a timeline, Alberta’s Alison Redford said the delegation will head east in the new year and before Albertans vote in their spring election.
The three met at Edmonton’s Government House, to discuss a Canadian Energy Strategy, labour force development, immigration and ensuring the west is included in national conversations.
Premier Redford says, “it’s about how we’re going to create a set of fundamental values around infrastructure in terms of economic growth in Western Canada.”
She also mentioned how talks of the Northern Gateway Pipeline have to focus on other aspects than just the environmental regulatory process, such as economic benefits as well as the public’s best interests.
The meeting of the three Premiers was the first meeting under the support of the New West Partnership, a two year-old initiative that was designed to break down trade barriers between the three provinces and boost economic prospects for the western Canadian population.
One key topic of discussion within the Partnership is a $5.5 billion proposed pipeline, which would run from the Edmonton region to Kitimat, B.C. It would carry bitumen to China and India and is central in Alberta’s plans to diversify its markets.
B.C.’s Clark once again refused to declare her position on the proposed pipeline until the completion of an environmental review.
However, she admitted, “it’s essential that our ports and our infrastructure all across the west are functioning as well as they possibly can. That’s what allows trade to flow inside our country and that’s what puts people to work.”
She also stressed that B.C.’s coast does not just belong to our province, but to Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba Quebec, Ontario and the Atlantic provinces as well.
Clark also talked about a specific message she wants to deliver to Ottawa, saying, “Certainly in B.C. we recognize the big contributions the oilsands make to Canada and to our national economy. We need to be proud of the fact our country is an energy powerhouse. We need to be thinking of the net benefits for all Canadians, or making sure we are maximizing our energy resources and doing it in an environmentally sustainable way.”
The three Premiers also talked about their responses to federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s announcement that future health-funding increases will be linked to economic growth.
The move would cut increases to roughly half of the annual six per cent increases that provinces have come to expect as a result of the ten-year health funding agreement which was struck by former Prime Minister Paul Martin in 2004.
The three western Premiers all agreed that the federal government should continue to provide the full six per cent.
Premier Wall also discussed the focuses of the western partnership, saying, “the New West Partnership is determined to go into these meetings not only discussing percentages and money, but the focus has to be on better health care. There is a lot of work to be done, but we are stronger when we are together.”
The Premiers will next meet at the Council of the Federation, taking place in Victoria on Jan.16, 2012.
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