MONCTON, N.B.– The premiers’ meeting ending today will not break new ground on climate change, energy or aboriginal poverty, but it has signaled an ongoing lack of leadership on all three as well as on inter-provincial trade.
There will be no agreement on climate change because Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach rejects the ‘cap and trade’ proposals. The premiers will not agree on internal trade. British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell aggressively promoted TILMA while others support the existing agreement.
“Manitoba Premier Gary Doer and Saskatchewan Premier Lorne Calvert tried to guide the other premiers and Prime Minister [Stephen] Harper,” National President Paul Moist said. “They rejected TILMA because they saw that it would infringe on their ability to govern, allowing corporations to veto their decisions.”
The premiers also heard from hundreds of citizens who protested outside the Council of the Federation meeting. They were telling the premiers and Harper that making deals in secret like the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement does not make for good politics or good business.
“The eastern premiers need to reassess their support for Atlantica, a secret deal similar to TILMA that will ship raw natural resources out of Canada for processing and send good-paying local jobs down the river,” Moist said.
First Nations leader Phil Fontaine also offered Harper and the premiers a lesson: Revive the Kelowna Accord and get moving on the battle against poverty in aboriginal communities. But “we shouldn’t expect any consensus on that life-threatening issue either,” Moist said.
At the end of three days, Canadians must wonder if the summer retreats are worth the expense. Apart from the 2004 health accord, they appear to have accomplished little. Today’s expected show of unity will not hide the wide divisions on issues.
Perhaps the greatest lesson for the premiers came when 25 young people marched this week to tell them to stop undermining their future. “Harper and the premiers ignore them at the peril of our country,” Moist said.