As with any gathering that involves period actors sporting attire of the 1880s, the Council of the Federation, an annual meeting of Canada’s 13 provincial and territorial premiers in Charlottetown, was what kids these days would call a banger. That’s what kids these days call these sort of functions, right? Sure, the daytime meeting may have been saturated with humdrum discussions of energy policy, trade policy, and public inquiry policy, but at night the conference began to resemble an old high school friend’s wedding. Drunkenly prolonged toasts were made, a bunch of white people tried to dance, and, of course, a few lucky ladies went up to their hotel rooms with an 1880s proprietor. And if this doesn’t sound like any wedding you’ve ever been to, you’re going to the wrong weddings. Needless to say, it was one wild night for Canada’s premiers.
But lo, if this is to be at all a credible satirical news article, I’m going to have to leave the events of the Conference reception largely up to your imagination, and focus instead on some of the issues discussed soberly in the actual Conference. Let’s rumble, chaps!
In an important development, the premiers emerged from the depths of the conference with an agreement to move forward with a national energy strategy. PEI premier Robert Ghiz said that all the provinces and territories have reached a consensus on a “vision and principle” for the energy strategy. Ah, vision and principle, the two things you say you’ve done when you have no intention of ever getting anything done. Unsurprisingly, this is quite in line with how the report on the conference’s energy plan reads. The report outlines a bunch of vague objectives like “reflect the shared values of Canadians,” “maintain the highest degree of environmental safeguards and protection,” and “addressing climate change and moving towards a lower carbon economy.” Basically, a bunch of flimsy “values” nobody would ever be opposed to because they’re really easy to ignore when the time comes to actually act on these objectives. But hey, why break the Canadian tradition of waiting to fuss over our politicians inert policies until after we realize they were nothing but hot air? Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard said, “I’m extremely happy that our government is joining the buildup of the strategy.” See? I wouldn’t want to ruin the kick they’re all getting out their playdate.
Violence Against Aboriginal Women
To give them credit, their discussions on this topic did prove to be more hopeful. A call to see the federal government take an active role in discussions about missing and murdered aboriginal women was unanimous amongst the premiers. In the face of a stubborn Prime Minister, they did agree to compromise with a national round table on the issue made up of parliament’s key ministers. Harper has yet to respond to this proposition. Greg Selinger, premier of Manitoba, staunchly supported the need for a national inquiry in an interview with CBC. They wrote, “‘Why is that?’ he thundered rhetorically, before launching into a lengthy dissertation on colonialism, residential schools and poor health conditions. ‘We need to look at these factors.’” B.C. premier Christy Clark said the federal government should see this as a “historic opportunity” to support First Nations. Although in this young writer’s opinion, the government helping the police figure out why its own citizens are being murdered should never be described as a “historic opportunity.” Just get it done, Steve.
The Alcohol Will be A-Flowin’…More Freely Between Provinces
British Columbia Premier Christy Clark and Saskatchewan’s Brad Wall agreed to lift barriers that will allow for wines and craft spirits to be ordered directly from consumers and delivered to your door, as well as making it legal for an individual to import the respective wines and spirits between the provinces. Manitoba and Nova Scotia have already made great strides in removing these trade barriers and Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne has told reporters that she is interested in a similar deal for her province. This gets me very excited because I’ve heard so many great things about Regina wines.
Of course, this conference wouldn’t have been complete without the premiers grovelling for a higher allowance from the federal government, and what else could we have really expected? But, as the final morning of the conference dawned, I’d like to think that the premiers stumbled out of their hotel rooms, swallowed a couple Advils, and unanimously agreed on one last policy: what happens at the Conference of the Federation stays at the Conference of the Federation.