The Current

Conservative premiers' unity means the system is working 'in a weird and twisted way,' says columnist

Our national affairs panel discusses what to expect from the provincial premiers' annual meeting, and what it can tell us about the upcoming federal election. Political columnist Murray Mandryk says that provincial pushback against federal policies reflects voter concerns.

Premiers' opposition to federal plans reflects concerns of voters: Murray Mandryk

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, far right, hosts a Stampede breakfast with visiting premiers, left to right: Robert McLeod of the Northwest Territories, Blaine Higgs of New Brunswick, Scott Moe of Saskatchewan, and Doug Ford of Ontario, in Calgary on Monday, July 8. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

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Provincial conservative leaders have made a show of unity to address a sense of "alienation" in western Canada, according to one political commentator.

"It is that sentiment that there's something very wrong with our system, there's something very wrong that we can't get our voice heard," said Murray Mandryk, political columnist for the Regina Leader-Post.

On Monday, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney convened in Calgary with Ontario's Doug Ford, Saskatchewan's Scott Moe, New Brunswick's Blaine Higgs and Bob McLeod of the Northwest Territories. 

"It's incredible that we can sit down as like-minded premiers," Kenney told reporters when the leaders emerged for a joint press conference afterward.

He said they discussed job creation and prosperity, and was critical of the federal government's plan to tackle climate change.

Mandryk said that the leaders "managed to come together in unity ... and I'm not so sure that's the most unhealthy thing."

"Some people might think it is, if you can only get together on how much you dislike pipelines, or how much you dislike the carbon tax, or — more specifically — how much you dislike Justin Trudeau and want to see the Liberals defeated."

The five leaders flipped pancakes in Calgary, Monday, July 8. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

But these leaders are only expressing these sentiments because they were voted in by citizens who share those views, he told The Current's guest host Katie Simpson.

"This is our democratic system. These [leaders] were legitimately elected by the public," he said.

"In a weird and twisted way, I guess the system's working."

The five premiers will join the rest of the country's provincial leaders Wednesday, at the Council of the Federation meeting in Saskatoon. It is the last time they all meet before the federal election in the fall.

To discuss the role the premiers will play in that election, Simpson spoke with:

  • Chris Hall, the CBC's National Affairs Editor and host of CBC Radio's The House.
  • Marie Vastel, parliamentary correspondent for Le Devoir.
  • Murray Mandryk, political columnist for the Regina Leader-Post.

Click 'listen' near the top of this page to hear the full conversation.

Written by Padraig Moran, with files from CBC News. Produced by Idella Sturino.


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