Premier Dwight Ball says national unity was top of mind in calls with Canada’s premiers following Monday’s federal election.
Ball held a news conference on Tuesday to share his thoughts on the outcome of the federal election, which saw a Liberal majority become a minority.
On rate mitigation, Ball says he believes there is a way to find a solution to keep electricity rates affordable, with the federal government’s co-operation.
“We’re going to continue to work on this. We have a path forward on this now. I’ve already met the Finance minister, met with the prime minister many times,” said Ball.
“We have a group of hardworking MPs, which includes Jack Harris now, to work to benefit and put in place a good, clear rate mitigation plan.”
Progressive Conservative Leader Ches Crosbie says Ball should have been more present throughout the campaign advocating for stronger commitments on rate mitigation.
Ball did write a letter to each federal leader outlining concerns in this province, including rate mitigation, which NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer replied to.
Crosbie says the federal government should offer this province cash for rate mitigation, not adjusted financing.
“It’s all vague as hell. I can tell you now what the Liberals are trying to do, what Seamus O’Regan is talking about. They’re not putting new money into rate mitigation, they’re talking about extending the financial terms of Muskrat Falls financing,” said Crosbie.
“I want to see new financial commitments — money — from the federal government. Exactly what form that would take is a matter for discussion. They’re going to have to put up some capital to help us out there.”
Meanwhile, the electoral map of Canada shows regional divides more pronounced. There are no Liberal MPs in Alberta or Saskatchewan, and a more Liberal Ontario and Atlantic Canada show the East-West dynamic at its more inflamed in recent memory.
Ball says murmurs of a “Wexit,” where Alberta would leave Confederation, is a concern for him.
“I see where there’s the potential for a divided Canada. Just look at some of the 'Wexit' comments that were made (Monday) night and see how that’s trending on social media. That concerns me as a Canadian, concerns me as a Newfoundlander and Labradorian,” said Ball.
“I know that when Canada works great, we all benefit. It’s OK to live in Alberta, B.C. or Newfoundland and Labrador. That’s the reason why I started reaching out to premiers this morning and have that conversation. There is a willingness that there is a greater role that we can play in making sure that Canada is not divided, that we stay united. I’m certainly prepared, as one of the senior premiers in the country right now, to be part of that conversation.”
"There is a willingness that there is a greater role that we can play in making sure that Canada is not divided, that we stay united. I’m certainly prepared, as one of the senior premiers in the country right now, to be part of that conversation.” — Premier Dwight Ball
Crosbie says the anger in the West is real.
“Western alienation has taken a turn much for the worse, with the re-election of the federal Liberal government and what Alberta and other parts of the West see as an anti-West agenda through legislation like Bill C-69, which they call the no-more-pipelines bill,” said Crosbie.
“Unfortunately, I think it’s more than rhetorical bluster. That has been percolating for at least a year. When I was in Calgary last December, I was informed about it at that time. There was, in fact, a lot of talk, a lot of sentiment around separating because Albertans and Calgarians thought that they were being disserved by the federal government.”
Crosbie says he’s not sure what the solution is, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has to do what he can to quell the sentiment.
“I think what Prime Minister Trudeau should do is fly to Calgary this week, or Edmonton, fly out West, anyway, and he should announce within days that the pipeline will continue to be a priority of this government and it's going through as soon as the necessary consultations have taken place,” said Crosbie.