Prime Minister Justin Trudeau removed his special representative for the Prairies from the cabinet, noting that the liberal government will take a different approach in its relationship with the West.
That appeared to get off to a rocky start on Tuesday, with Alberta’s prime minister reacting strongly to another move by Trudeau: appointing a former anti-pipeline activist as environment minister.
The outcome of the 2019 federal elections sparked complaints about national unity, as Liberals were excluded from Alberta and Saskatchewan, where even Regina’s former cabinet minister, Ralph Goodale, was defeated. Those results came after months of rejection by conservative prime ministers on the prairies of the liberal government’s energy policies.
That fall, Trudeau appointed Manitoba Representative Jim Carr as his special representative to the region. Chrystia Freeland, who has a Toronto career but was born in Alberta, also became minister for intergovernmental affairs at the time, responding to Western alienation.
Last month, the Liberals elected two MPs in Alberta. Edmonton MP Randy Boissonnault was appointed sports minister. Dan Vandal, who represents a Manitoba horseback riding, maintained his position as minister of northern affairs and is also assuming responsibility for economic development on the prairies.
Carr’s job, and his cabinet place, was not renewed Tuesday. He said on Twitter that he “will continue to advance the interests of Prairie Canada.”
Another movement that has drawn attention in the West is the appointment of Quebec environmentalist Steven Guilbeault to lead Environment and Climate Change. Before running for the Liberals, he founded Equiterre, a well-known environmental advocacy group, and was a known pipeline opponent who also worked at Greenpeace.
On Tuesday, Conservative MP Blake Richards responded to the news on Twitter calling Guilbeault an “anti-Alberta oil activist.”
Alberta Prime Minister Jason Kenney called the appointment “very problematic.”
“Given Mr. Guilbeault’s background, I think it is important for him to send a signal that he does not see the Canadian government as a special interest group to impose a radical agenda that would lead to mass unemployment,” Kenney said.
#JimCarr out of cabinet, no more special envoy to #Prairies for the Liberal government. #Cdnpoli
“I hope it sends a signal that you are willing to work constructively and cooperatively with us as partners to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and grow the economy.”
Guilbeault, in his role as an environmental activist, was also mentioned several times in the final report of a public inquiry recently released by Alberta, conducted in July 2019, to investigate allegations that environmentalists were accepting foreign money to fund campaigns aimed at prevent the expansion of Alberta. oil sands, one of the main sources of greenhouse gases. The report concluded that Canadian environmental groups were exercising their democratic rights to freedom of expression.
On Tuesday, Trudeau said the debate over whether climate change is real is over.
“There are some corners of the public sphere where you still see that debate, but for the majority of Canadians, and indeed the majority of Albertans, we know that we must look to the future,” he told a news conference. in Ottawa.
“We need to bring people in, support them in the jobs they need, but also reduce our emissions to zero.”
Guilbeault takes over as Minister of the Environment at a time when many oil and gas industry supporters want to see more enthusiasm in Ottawa, not less, and are concerned about what a transition from the consumption of fossil fuels.
Upon assuming his new position, Guilbeault replaces Jonathan Wilkinson, a North Vancouver MP who hails from Saskatchewan and at one point worked for an NDP government in the province.
Kenney said that despite concerns about “increasingly ambitious federal goals and damaging policies” from liberals, he felt his administration enjoyed a constructive working relationship with Wilkinson, who is moving to Natural Resources.
Wilkinson takes over natural resources from Seamus O’Regan of Newfoundland and Labrador, who, like Wilkinson, was appointed to the position in 2019. He later touted that he, too, was from an oil and gas producing province.
On Tuesday, Vandal rejected any idea that the cabinet lacks more representation from his province, saying he is proud of the four-person caucus of Liberals in Manitoba.
This Canadian Press report was first published on October 26, 2021.
– With Bob Weber files in Edmonton.