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The Council of the Federation has released its take on the premiers’ meeting last week in Moncton, N.B., and after sorting through the rhetoric there is good news and bad news.

The good news: Most of the premiers seem lukewarm overall to the idea of TILMA, the western trade deal being heavily promoted by British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell. After mollifying Campbell and Alberta’s Stelmach, the statement focuses on working on ways to strengthen the Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT.) This is a positive development.

The bad news: the climate change statement. The provinces have made tiny steps in this area, largely due to the refusal of Alberta and Newfoundland to entertain a cap and trade system being promoted by Manitoba and other progressive provinces. Still the premiers are taking some leadership, albeit according to each province’s own individual plan and timetable, in the face of a complete vacuum in leadership from the federal Conservative government on this matter.

It’s not encouraging to Canadians when the best that can be said about a gathering of our provincial leaders is ‘It could have been worse’. But that’s the political reality of Canada right now.

We have a prime minister who is trying to shuffle himself into majority government, and a group of premiers who are largely unwilling to pick up his slack to bring about the dramatic shift our country needs.