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King meets with Alberta Premier Jason Kenney during P.E.I. visit

P.E.I. Premier Dennis King and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney take questions from the media after meeting in Charlottetown on Friday.
P.E.I. Premier Dennis King and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney take questions from the media after meeting in Charlottetown on Friday. - Stu Neatby

Fresh from his first speech from the throne, Dennis King hosted his first visit of another Canadian premier on Friday.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney met with King as part of an Eastern Canadian tour that also included meetings with the premiers of Quebec and New Brunswick. A media release issued by the Province of Alberta said the tour was part of Kenney’s attempt to attract investment to his province and to “stand up for Alberta.”

The release also noted six premiers have written to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asking him to accept Senate amendments made to Bill C-69, a piece of legislation that would reform how environmental assessments of pipeline projects are undertaken.

These amendments were largely from Conservative Senators, as well as energy industry groups.

Industry groups have argued the bill is overly onerous and would prohibit new energy pipeline projects from being built. The federal government has argued the bill is necessary in order to ensure impacts on indigenous people are taken into account.

When asked if he had urged King to take a public stance on Bill C-69, Kenney said the previous government of Wade MacLauchlan had already signalled concern with the bill in a letter also signed by the other three Atlantic Premiers last February.

"From our perspective, what has transpired since February, nothing has changed here in Prince Edward Island," King said.

Still, Kenney said reducing regulatory red tape for oil pipelines was in the interest of Islanders.

"Getting a fair price for western Canadian energy means we've got more wealth to share across the federation. P.E.I. and Atlantic Canada benefit from transfers through fiscal federalism like equalization which disproportionately come from western resource wealth," Kenney said.

Kenney has attempted to leverage the transfer payments paid by Alberta in order to effect political change. While campaigning in March, Kenney pledged to hold a referendum on federal equalization programs if pipelines are not built.

Kenney noted an eastern pipeline, much like the scuttled Energy East pipeline, would allow eastern Canadians access to cheaper oil.

The Energy East pipeline was largely planned as a method of transporting Alberta oil to the export market.

Overall, King said there was no specific goal to his meeting with Kenney, aside from becoming re-acquainted.

Kenney said he was pleased to hear about the commitment of King to bring more respect and collaboration into the political process in P.E.I.

"I really appreciate the premier's approach to civility in politics," Kenney said.

"We're perhaps not quite as polite as you guys are towards each other on the Island but we have something to learn from the tone of civility that the Premier and his colleagues have brought to P.E.I. politics."

Stu.neatby@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/stu_neatby

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