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MacLauchlan sees gains for P.E.I. from meeting of Canadian premiers

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, Prince Edward Island Premier Wade MacLauchlan and Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister, left to right, attend the closing news conference of the Canadian premiers meeting in St. Andrews, N.B. on Friday, July 20, 2018.
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, Prince Edward Island Premier Wade MacLauchlan and Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister, left to right, attend the closing news conference of the Canadian premiers meeting in St. Andrews, N.B. on Friday, July 20, 2018. - The Canadian Press

Premier Wade MacLauchlan sees good fortune for P.E.I. in pursuing advanced trade partnerships.

“Prince Edward Island benefits from an open Canadian economy,’’ MacLauchlan told The Guardian Friday.

“We signed up for that. We are actively looking forward to further gains on that front.’’

The premier made the comments shortly after Canada’s premiers wrapped up their meetings in New Brunswick.

Premiers agreed to enhance existing trade relationships while building new partnerships in emerging global markets.

MacLauchlan noted “robust discussion’’ emerged about international trade on the first day of meetings in the scenic seaside town of St. Andrews addressing “tensions and uncertainties’’ with Canadian/U.S. relationships.

For the first time in a generation, goods and services accustomed to moving freely between Canada and the United States are being constricted by protectionism. The U.S. has imposed tariffs on Canada. Canada has responded in kind.

As for the two-and-a-half days of meetings, MacLauchlan only had positive assessments, declaring he had no disappointments at all from the gathering.

Some considered the talks upstaged by Ontario Premier Doug Ford, who announced his province will intervene in Saskatchewan’s court challenge of Ottawa’s carbon tax plan.

MacLauchlan dismissed that prickly issue as simply “kind of off to the side’’ of discussions at the table.

“I actually found Premier Ford to be a good listener,’’ he added.

“I found him to be a good colleague at the table.’’

In fact, the premier praised the overall “high degree of collaboration’’ at the table, which included only four premiers who have served longer than MacLauchlan.

Related: Premiers strike deal to allow increased flow of beer, alcohol across borders

One highlight of the meeting was a deal that will effectively double the amount of beer and alcohol that can be taken across provincial and territorial borders.

The deal will see a large increase in the personal limits for alcohol and beer in provinces such as New Brunswick, while others like Alberta and Manitoba currently have no limits.

MacLauchlan believes the move could benefit the growing craft brewery business in P.E.I. as well as local wineries and Island businesses making spirits.

“I am very proud of the quality of what is being produced in the province,’’ he said.

He praised work aimed at ensuring mobility of Canadian workers within the country by addressing regulations and standards.

MacLauchlan joined seven premiers for breakfast Friday to discuss universal pharmacare with former Ontario health minister Eric Hoskins, who chairs the Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare.

Linda Silas, president of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions, was also in the meeting and said she is encouraged there is support from the provinces after they came out last year in favour of a national plan.

“They are all in support of reforming our system. They see it in their budgets,’’ she said.

MacLauchlan noted: “A lot of detailed work is being done and discussion and dialogue taking place about what pharmacare might look like and that includes the scale of commitment that we have.’’

He added the biggest question among premiers on the implementation of a national pharmacare system is how “robust, reliable and sustainable a federal commitment to this might be… This is something of considerable concern.’’

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