Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, at a photo op at a Regina Co-op grocery store on April 13. Twitter/Justin Trudeau

 

REGINA – It’s not often you hear the CBC relentlessly calling Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to task on live radio, but that’s exactly what happened the morning of April 13.

The CBC’s Stefani Langenegger had Trudeau on a 11 minute call that morning. According to his iternary for the day, Trudeau was in Regina to “visit a local grocery store. He will meet with families and employees to discuss the Grocery Rebate delivered by Budget 2023—A Made-in-Canada Plan: Strong Middle Class, Affordable Economy, Healthy Future.” That was followed by a town hall, whose location was specifically not listed. It turned out to be at First Nations University.

Langenegger started by asking Trudeau on whether he had given prior notice to Premier Scott Moe that he would be in the province, as his most recent visit to Saskatoon did not see that happen.

Here’s that exchange, which you can listen to here at this link:

Stefani Langenegger: Did you tell the premier you are coming?

Justin Trudeau: Yeah, we were looking at to try and meet with him this afternoon. Unfortunately, he’s out of town apparently, but I’m always happy to meet with him.

Langenegger: Last time you came he said you didn’t mention it.

Trudeau: Well, listen, I’m always happy to speak with Scott, and always happy to work on things together. And I was hoping to be able to meet with him today. But unfortunately, like I said, apparently he’s out of the town

 

To that end, Premier Scott Moe’s office emailed the following to Pipeline Online:

“In fact we did request a meeting,” the email said.

“Premier Moe has meetings in his constituency and the Prince Albert area today.

“Yesterday, Prime Minister’s Office did provide notification he would be in Regina today.

“Premier Moe then requested a meeting to discuss Minister Lametti’s comments, clean electricity standards and potential regulations, and infrastructure funding.

“Unfortunately, the PMO indicated they would only be able to accommodate a short “pull-aside” at one of their events.

“Given the significance of these topics, we will continue to work toward a future date for a meeting that allows sufficient time for a meaningful discussion on these important issues.”

The “Clean Electricity Standard” referenced by the Premier’s office was a major motivation behind the Saskatchewan First Act, which was proclaimed April 6. While still in discussion phase, if brought into law and regulation, it would mean the end of fossil fuel power generation in Canada by 2035, except in exceptional circumstances. For Saskatchewan, on any given day, up to 86 per cent of our power is generated by coal and natural gas. For Alberta, it’s 90. And the morning Trudeau spoke to CBC Saskatchewan, Alberta’s 3,618 megawatts of wind generating capacity fell to 6 megawatts of actual production, or 0.14 per cent output.

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Back to the CBC interview:

Langenegger: You’ve probably heard that Saskatchewan’s Premier is among Western premiers, furious with comments made by your justice minister. What are your thoughts on that?

Trudeau: Well, I think it’s important to stick to the facts. The justice minister got a question from an indigenous leader about how are we’re moving forward on UNDRIP. And he talks about how important it is to make sure that federal legislation aligns with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous people. At no time did he ever suggest we were going to be looking into or going after areas of provincial jurisdiction. I think it’s really important that people, people not overreact or spread misinformation on things like this.

Langenegger: Well let’s listen to what your minister said.

At this point she plays the audio clip of Justice Minister David Lametti speaking to the Assembly of First Nations on April 5.

Recording of David Lametti: “The point about the Natural Resources Transfer Agreement, Chief Maracle did it indirectly, Chief Brian did it directly. And you’re on the record for that. I obviously can’t pronounce on that right now. But I do commit to looking at that.

It won’t be uncontroversial, is the only think I would say, with a bit of a smile.

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Langenegger: What do you hear him say there?

Trudeau: I say he knows that we need to work with Indigenous communities and making sure that we’re moving forward on reconciliation. But there is a full understanding that the changing the constitution has never been in our approach, and to take a context like that, or a quote like, that and raise it into a level of fear mongering …

Langenegger interjected (the two talk over each other for a second): But he mention; sir, your minister mentioned the natural resources …

Trudeau: Stefani, What you could also do, if you wanted to play a clip, is play the clip with him explaining unequivocally in the very next, of the very next day that that is not his intention at all.

Langenegger: The next day?

Trudeau: … to that, yes. When he put out a statement, he said very clearly that this is not something that we are looking at, and we are not going after provincial jurisdiction. But we are very much hoping that provinces, like the prairie provinces, actually step up, themselves, on recognizing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous people and take reconciliation seriously. This is something that we are absolutely going to be pushing on. So, I’m always happy to talk with the premiers about how we’re going to move forward in partnership for everyone who lives in Saskatchewan.

Langenegger: But sir, he wasn’t talking about a UN Declaration. He was talking about Natural Resources Transfer Agreements.

Trudeau: Uh, no, he was talking about the UN Declaration.

Langenegger: Well, he said the Natural Resources Transfer Agreements in the clip.

Trudeau: Yes, he did. Yes, he did. Because that’s part of the universe of things that impact on indigenous peoples. But that is not an area of that area that the federal government is going to take away from the provinces.

Langenegger: Then why did he say it ‘with a bit of a smile?’

Trudeau: Because he knew that there was a risk that what would happen, that what happened, would actually happen, which is that premiers would jump all over that, and try and make it another story about attacks on provincial jurisdiction, when, indeed, it’s actually being serious about working with premiers, work with indigenous leaders, on economic reconciliation the way people want to.

Langenegger: If he knew that was a risk, why wasn’t he crystal clear in the moment?

Trudeau: When one is engaging with Indigenous leadership, when you’re talking about the things that we need to do, to fix a system that for too long has been colonial, has been terrible, in terms of supporting and partnering with Indigenous peoples, we will always make clear that we are taking seriously our responsibilities under the UN Declaration of Rights of Indigenous people, and of our our own constitutional obligations towards Indigenous peoples. And we will always be there to work in a thoughtful way with the provinces on issues that matter to people and that’s what we will continue to do.

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Langenegger: What do you make of claims from First Nations leaders that mineral rights were never included in the treaties? It was for the depth for the plow, And that’s it.

Trudeau: I think there are lots of conversations to have on this. And if you want to talk about mineral rights, Stefani, one of the things that I’ve been really excited about is what we’re doing around critical minerals, around uranium and potash.

I was just in, talking with the prime minister of Ukraine a couple of days ago, who just oversaw the signing of a huge contract with Cameco, to make sure that the Ukrainian nuclear reactors for the next decade and more are powered by uranium from Saskatchewan. That’s a really big step.

We’re moving forward on the rare earth elements. I was in the meeting at Vital Metals just a few a few weeks ago, the plant in Saskatoon that we’re investing in to make sure we’re solving for the challenges of shortages of rare earth elements around the world. There are huge investments coming in potash because Russia and better Belarus are no longer reliable suppliers for allies around the world. And Canada and Canadian workers, and resource workers, here in Saskatchewan and across the country, are going to benefit from the kinds of things that we’re doing, to make sure we’re investing in the kind of minerals future that we need.

 

To watch the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau town hall at First Nations University, click here.

 

 

 

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