Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says while other western premiers meeting in Yellowknife will be talking about how to spend money, she’ll be working in Alberta figuring out how to earn it.
Notley said she is not attending the meeting Wednesday because her time is better spent making sure the Trans Mountain pipeline project goes ahead.
“When it comes to interprovincial relations, it’s not business as usual — not even close,” she said Tuesday in Edmonton. “That is why I’ve chosen to not attend the western premiers meeting.
“My time is better spent here.”
Notley said issues such as pharmacare are important and Alberta will be represented by deputy premier and Minister of Health Sarah Hoffman.
“In representing Alberta at the table, we want to make something very clear,” she said. “If we want to make sure that every Canadian can get the medications they need, we need to be able to pay for it.
“While they are at the premiers meeting talking about how to spend that kind of money, I’ll be here in Alberta talking about how we can earn that kind of money.”
Notley said one participant at the meeting — B.C. Premier John Horgan — is trying to shut down the Trans Mountain pipeline and take $15 billion out of the Canadian economy.
“Pharmacare does not grow on trees,” she said. “In order to protect and improve the things that matter to people, like pharmacare, we need a strong, functioning national economy.
“Canada has to work for all Canadians. That’s why we’re fighting for the pipeline.”
A spokesperson for Horgan’s office said the B.C. premier was heading to Yellowknife focused on a national pharmacare program and ensuring provinces retain a leadership role on any national drug plan.
Notley said it might be worth going to the meeting to chastise Horgan if a decision on Trans Mountain were still a long way off, but the deadline is too soon now.
“We’re very close to some very important decisions that need to be made, very complex decisions with a lot of moving parts, so I need to be here.”
Owner Kinder Morgan has ceased all non-essential spending on the project until it receives assurances it can proceed without delays. The company has set May 31 as a deadline for getting those guarantees.
Alberta sees the pipeline as key to moving bitumen from the province to the west coast and from there to lucrative overseas markets.
The Canadian Press