Nfld. & Labrador

N.L. premier calls out lack of female leaders at Council of the Federation meetings

Dwight Ball says it's not the lack of Liberal premiers that bothers him, but the lack of female representation.

No female premiers at the table is a problem, says Dwight Ball

Dwight Ball, seated next to P.E.I. Premier Dennis King and Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister - three of the leaders at the all-male meetings this week. (David Cochrane/CBC)

Dwight Ball says it's not the lack of Liberal premiers that bothers him at this week's Council of the Federation conference in Saskatoon, but the lack of female representation.

The Newfoundland and Labrador premier is at the meetings this week, along with the rest of the country's provincial and territorial leaders. 

Looking around the table, he said he was disappointed.

"Most of my political career I was used to coming to those meetings and seeing strong female voices at the table and that was missing today," he told CBC on Wednesday night.

Ball brought Lisa Dempster, the MHA for southern Labrador and a provincial cabinet minister, along with him for the week.

He said Dempster attended a meeting on Indigenous affairs, and she was the only woman at that meeting as well.

The country has lost three female premiers in the last three years, with Christy Clark ousted in British Columbia, Ontario voters choosing Doug Ford over Kathleen Wynne, and Alberta electing Jason Kenney over Rachel Notley.

Conservative premiers flip pancakes for a Calgary crowd. From left, Doug Ford, Jason Kenney, Blaine Higgs and Scott Moe. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

As a Liberal premier, Ball said he wasn't fazed by being left out of Kenney's Calgary Stampede breakfast plans before the meetings, which saw five Conservative premiers wear white cowboy hats and flip pancakes for the crowd.

Despite their political differences, Ball has a similar goal with Kenney at these meetings — making changes to Bill C-69 to alleviate any harm to the oil and gas industry.

"I'm very confident from an offshore development point of view that we will get offshore exploratory wells exempt and that we will maintain joint management [of the industry]."

Energy routes, pharmacare key issues for N.L.

Part of Wednesday's agenda was on trade corridors, which included talk of pipelines for most provinces. But moving Muskrat Falls hydroelectric power down through the Maritimes was more important to Ball.

"For us, energy transmission and getting a trade corridor through New Brunswick so we can help New Brunswick and Nova Scotia to get off of coal," he said.

Canada's premiers listen as Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe addresses them during a meeting of Canada's Premiers in Saskatoon on Wednesday. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

Ball said the two provinces need to replace 1700 megawatts of coal power by 2030, and he wants Newfoundland and Labrador to be the answer to their problem.

On Thursday, Ball will lead a talk on health care sustainability and pharmacare.

"I want to make sure that becomes part of the national agenda as we lead into the next fall election," he said.

"We can actually challenge federal leaders, no matter who they are or what political stripe they are to put in a pharmacare program. Canada is the last G7 country to be doing this and I think it's long overdue."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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