The House: Justin Trudeau confronts the provincial uprisings
Oil production not officially on the agenda, but it had a 'very thorough and complete airing'
A highly anticipated meeting between Canada's premiers and the prime minister was expected to bring deep tensions to the surface, but ended with little sign of heightened emotions.
After reports that some premiers would either walk out of the meeting in Montreal or not attend altogether, British Columbia's John Horgan said the gathering ended with more commonalities than anyone might have anticipated at the outset.
Horgan himself has had some tense moments with Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau this year, but told CBC Radio's The House he was pleased with how the meeting went.
Despite the pleasant finale, Horgan added there were "no shrinking violets in that room."
Even loaded topics not originally planned for long discussion were raised, like Alberta's oil crisis.
"Just because it's not on the agenda doesn't mean you're not going to talk about it," Horgan said.
The B.C. premier also just released his province's climate change plan, which sets ambitious goals around clean energy, improving energy efficiency and moving toward electric vehicles.
Horgan said there are enormous amounts of energy in Canada that haven't been tapped yet because there are still so many barriers to moving goods province to province.
Oil woes dominate meeting for Alberta's Rachel Notley
Having no firm answer about the asked-for help from the federal government won't stop Alberta Premier Rachel Notley from demanding a solution to her province's oil crisis.
It's far from her ideal outcome. However, during the meeting with Trudeau and some of his ministers in Montreal, she said she felt the door open slightly — making her confident in continuing the fight.
"We're going to keep doing the work that we have been doing," she told The House after coming up empty-handed on a deal with Ottawa.
"We've made a very clear ask."
After months of uncertainty created by an inability to get oil out of the province in an efficient way, Notley's ask has evolved into three specific requests. They include relief for oilpatch workers, and help obtaining rail cars to move oil.
The stalled expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline that would take more Alberta oil to tidewater on the coast of British Columbia means that crude is predominantly being transported by rail now.
Notley has asked for federal assistance to acquire rail cars to get more oil to market, since the supply being produced currently exceeds the capacity to transport it.
The Trudeau Liberals gave her no specific answer on a path forward, but she remains optimistic, even though it sometimes requires her getting her "elbows up."
It's gotten so bad, this week she announced a temporary 8.7 per cent cut in oil production to increase prices — the equivalent of 325,000 barrels per day.
The curtailment ends at the end of 2019, when Enbridge's new Line 3 pipeline is scheduled to start operating.
The government estimates Alberta is losing $80 million a day due to this discount, but Notley says the alternative is losing billions a year as Alberta oil is sold for pennies on the dollar, compared to the price for international oil.
Even if the federal government isn't addressing the matter with urgency, Notley said her other provincial and territorial counterparts seemed to — as there was "almost complete consensus" around the table that something needed to be done to tackle the problem.
"Constructive" conversations on difficult topics at premiers' meeting: LeBlanc
Minister Dominic LeBlanc had a difficult job at this week's first ministers meeting.
He's the man Trudeau put in charge of maintaining relationships with each of the country's premiers.
There have been enough provincial and territorial upsets over the past few years to bother almost all the leaders — everything from pipelines, to a carbon tax.
Many of those issues made it to the floor on Friday in Montreal, and despite some of the criticism from the premiers, LeBlanc called the gathering "constructive."
All the premiers signed onto a communiqué on Friday afternoon, vowing to tackle issues like clean energy, growing the economy and reducing trade barriers between provinces.
The ministers said they left with action items and a real sense of what could be achieved together.
Oil wasn't officially on the agenda, but LeBlanc said it had a "very thorough and complete airing" from the premiers concerned about the worsening situation in Alberta that led to Premier Notley temporarily cutting down oil production.