Former premiers say post-election PM could face rocky road with provinces
A former premier is warning that if the Liberal party wins the election, they can expect there to be an all-out political war with at least two provinces – and possibly more.
In an interview with Don Martin that aired during Thursday's episode of CTV’s Power Play, former B.C. premier Christy Clark warned that Alberta and Ontario will not respond well if the Oct. 21 election results in a second term for the Trudeau-led Liberals.
"I think if Justin Trudeau is re-elected prime minister…there's no question Ontario and Alberta are going to be at war with the federal government," said Clark.
Tensions have been mounting between the premiers of those two provinces and the Liberal government from some time, and the campaign hasn’t set them on simmer.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney flew to Ontario in early October to campaign alongside Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer. Kenney has also been on the offensive against Trudeau, saying in a September interview that Trudeau has "damaged national unity."
As for Ontario, Trudeau has gone after Premier Doug Ford multiple times during the election campaign. He's repeatedly mentioned Ford's name during press conferences as he tries to link the controversial Ontario leader to Scheer.
This hostility comes after months of arguments between the provinces and Trudeau's government, most of which surrounded the federally imposed price on carbon.
"[Trudeau] said tough luck, he brought in this national carbon tax. Almost nobody signed on. It's been a fractious, very difficult relationship," said Clark.
However, Ontario and Alberta aren't the only provinces that could prove to be tough customers for Trudeau, should he form government again.
Trudeau has left the door open to a potential intervention from the federal government on Quebec's controversial Bill 21, a secularism law that bans many public servants in Quebec from wearing religious symbols. The bill, which the Quebec government has been defending tooth and nail, is currently being challenged at the Quebec Court of Appeal.
According to Clark, If Trudeau does ultimately challenge the bill, "he'll be at war with the Quebec government."
Former Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall has also had some choice words for Trudeau, accusing him in a Thursday Facebook post of "openly campaigning against the oil industry" and of encouraging Quebecers to fight against the Alberta and Ontario premiers.
However, these issues could prove to be points of tension for any future prime minister, not just Trudeau. Former Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne said that she has her own concerns about provincial relations with a Scheer-led federal government.
"One of the things I worry about with Andrew Scheer, is…if he follows in Stephen Harper's model, meeting with one premier at a time or not at all," said Wynne on CTV's Power Play.
"Christy and I remember that kind of cold space between premiers and the prime minister."
Wynne said that although things have been tense between Trudeau and some provinces, she believes it's better to have an open dialogue involving all premiers.
"Yes, there are some pretty conflictual relationships at that table right now, but bringing everyone together and having the mix of premiers is a great antidote to specifically hostile relationships," said Wynne.
Regardless of who is awarded the keys to 24 Sussex on Monday night, relationships with the provinces will be key for pushing forward the agenda on key promises, such as the Liberal and NDP's pledged pharmacare and the Conservatives' promise of reduced inter-provincial trade barriers.