EDMONTON – Shadows. Trade in barbs. Shooting daggers.
There are several ways to describe the dynamics between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Alberta’s Prime Minister Jason Kenney as they stood side by side at a press conference in Edmonton on Monday.
It was meant to be a two-part moment – a blessing for parents and children, as the two levels of government announced a deal that would see billions of dollars in federal funding flow to Alberta to help make child care $ 10 a day. to reality.
But things went fast as journalists began questioning the energy industry and Trudeau’s recent pledge to curb oil and gas emissions – one that Kenney lamented earlier this month that the province was not heard about. Things took a further dive when Kenney during Monday’s press conference complained that Alberta did not get the same kind of childcare agreement as Quebec.
Back and forth began when Trudeau said he needed the Albertans to help achieve his emissions targets, and that Ottawa had put together a panel of experts to guide – “based on science” – what milestones the country needs to reach to get to the grid -s zero emissions.
“We will lean on these experts and work with partners across the country while setting a ceiling on emissions from the oil and gas sector,” he said.
“We’re working on it with the experts. We’ll work on it with the industry. We’ll also work on it with researchers.”
Kenney then stepped into the rostrum to respond: “I have just heard the Prime Minister say he will work with advisers, scientists and industry,” he said.
“I did not hear ‘provinces’.”
The premiere said the provinces “regulate the development of these resources.”
“I want to emphasize the importance of collaboration when it comes to finding a balance between jobs and growth and reducing emissions,” Kenney added.
It was something of a vivid look at the public jabs that have gone back and forth between the two leaders more often at a distance over the years. Kenney has previously said Trudeau’s emissions plan would be “unrealistic” and “devastating to the entire economy” and criticized him for not consulting with Alberta before revealing it.
The difficulties continued when asked about Alberta’s specific childcare agreement, which will see the province receive $ 3.8 billion over the next five years to reduce the cost of childcare.
The Liberals made childcare funding agreements of $ 10 a day an important election promise and began concluding agreements with the provinces.
Quebec was quickly able to secure a $ 6 billion childcare deal with the federal government – without ties. This province already spends about $ 2.7 billion on child care and meets the requirements typically set for these types of agreements with the federal government.
For several months, Alberta has been trying to sign a similar agreement with Ottawa, but claimed it was not on the table. In August, the Kenney blew up the Trudeau government for not giving it to Alberta and treating it as a “second-class” province.
Again on Monday, Kenney complained that although the new deal with Alberta has some flexibility, “this is the best deal we could get.”
“Ultimately, this is not the only time we see what appears to be a two-tier alliance,” he said.
Trudeau then stepped up to the microphone: “Allow me to answer it directly,” he said.
“It’s not a question of flexibility that we gave Quebec in terms of childcare versus flexibility that we would not give to Ontario,” he said.
Quebec already has child care for under $ 10 a day, Trudeau said, and therefore it did not make sense to impose conditions on funding from Ottawa.
“If Alberta already had child care for $ 8 a day across the province, we would have had an approach similar to Quebec,” he said.
“So let’s not create constitutional conventions out of this. It’s about looking at what families have, what families need, and how we get to $ 10 a day childcare across the country. “
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