Atlantic Liberal heavyweights explore region's challenges

Atlantic Canada's four premiers will be discussing the region's challenges as the Council of Atlantic premiers meeting kicks off in Fredericton on Wednesday.

Questions raised about N.B. Liberals piggy-backing party fundraiser the night before a taxpayer-funded event

New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant, Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil and P.E.I. Premier Wade MacLauchlan are meeting in Fredericton on Wednesday. Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball could not make it to the meeting. (CBC)

Atlantic Canada's four premiers will be discussing the region's challenges as the Council of Atlantic premiers meeting kicks off in Fredericton on Wednesday.

"Our goal is to have an unprecedented level of co-operation in Atlantic Canada," said New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant.

"We face many of the same challenges but also have many of the same economic opportunities."

Gallant was to be joined by three other Liberal premiers from the region, Dwight Ball of Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia's Steven McNeil and Prince Edward Island's Wade MacLauchlan.

However, Ball was unable to travel to Fredericton due to travel difficulties and will be participating by teleconference.

They will meet with federal government representatives including Government House Leader Dominic LeBlanc of New Brunswick, Treasury Board president Scott Brison of Nova Scotia, Public Services and and Procurement Minister Judy Foote of Newfoundland and Labrador, Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Lawrence MacAulay of Prince Edward Island.

The premiers will also be joined by federal Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains, who is the minister responsible the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.

"We will discuss how government can collaborate to grow the region's population, enhance international trade, continue to address climate change and support health care and services for seniors," said LeBlanc.

The meeting comes on the heels of a Liberal party event on Tuesday in the New Brunswick capital that featured the Atlantic premiers as guest speakers at a $250-a-plate fundraising dinner.

New Brunswick Liberals defended their decision piggyback the part fundraiser and the Council of Atlantic premiers meeting, which is funded through taxpayer dollars.

"This is a unique opportunity, and if we want to give access to business stakeholders and whatnot to advance their projects, their causes, hey, rightfully so," said Liberal cabinet minister Donald Arseneault.

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