Trade talks dominate first day of Council of the Federation meetings

Teresa Wright twright@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on August 28, 2014

Premiers from across Canada walked in the footsteps of the Fathers of Confederation this morning as they began the meetings of the Council of the Federation in Prince Edward Island.

The premiers began the morning by walking up Great George Street to Province House, just as the Fathers of Confederation did when they arrived in Charlottetown 150 years ago to discuss the idea of forming a country.

They then took seats around the meeting table in the historic Confederation chamber, which is usually blocked off for display-only to visitors and tourists.

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This is where the premiers began their first meeting of the day Thursday.

Internal trade between the provinces and territories is expected to be a major topic of discussion.

The premiers of British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan announced a plan to work together to bring down internal trade barriers through their New West Partnership.

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall said more work needs to be done to relax regulations that prevent companies from successfully offering certain goods and services across the country.

“At the heart of improving trade issues is trying to remove dumb from the economy and promote things that might cause a greater ability for goods to move goods across and for people to engage entrepreneurship and create jobs,” Wall told reporters in Charlottetown.

B.C. Premier Christy Clark said the federal government could also do more to increase free trade within the country.

“We are trying to lead by example in Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia, and help other provinces and help the federal government understand all the things that they can do to try and increase free trade across our country.”

The premiers are also expected to discuss strategies to deal with the country’s aging population and how this is affecting health care costs.

Health costs were also the focus of a small group of protesters who arrived with signs and a paper mache marionette of Prime Minister Stephen Harper this morning at Province House.

James Hutt from the Nova Scotia Citizen’s Health Care Network, said his group wanted to encourage the premiers to push the Harper government for better health transfers to the provinces.

“We’re here with other partners telling the premiers to stand up to Harper,” Hutt said.

“We’re calling on all the premiers to stand together and make sure we have a health care system that’s based on need, not your ability to pay.”

Energy and pensions are also expected to be discussed as the premiers continue their deliberations in Charlottetown today.

 

 

The Guardian will provide ongoing coverage online of the Council of the Federation meetings in Charlottetown throughout the day Thursday and Friday. Check back to The Guardian website for regular updates.

PREMIERS 2014

Published on 28 August 2014

Premiers and members of the Confederation Players walk up Great George Street Thursday in a reinactment of the walk the Fathers of Confederation took in 1864 when they landed in Charlottetown to begin laying the groundwork for the formation of Canada.

Photos by Guardian photo by Brian McInnis

PREMIERS 2014

Published on 28 August 2014

<p>082814 The premiers pose for a photograph on the steps of Province House Thursday along with the Confederation Players protraying the Fatherts and Mothers of Confederation. The premiers are meeeting in Charlottetown until Friday. Guardian photo by Brian McInnis</p>

Photos by Guardian photo by Brian McInnis

PREMIERS 2014

Published on 28 August 2014

British Columbia Premier Christy Clark greets an actor portraying Sir john A. Macdonald when the premiers meeting in Charlottetown paid a visitm to Province House Thursday.

Photos by Guardian photo by Brian McInnis

PREMIERS 2014

Published on 28 August 2014

Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne greets an actor portraying a Mother of Confederation when the premiers, who are meeting in Charlottetown, visited Province House Thursday.&nbsp;

Photos by Guardian photo by Brian McInnis

PREMIERS 2014

Published on 28 August 2014

A few protesters held signs and shouted a few times as the premiers walked up to Province House Thursday. The premiers are meeting in Charlottetown until Friday.

Photos by Guardian photo by Brian McInnis

PREMIERS 2014

Published on 28 August 2014

Premier Robert Ghiz, centre, explains the Confederation Chamber in Province House to Canadian premiers meeeting in Charlottetown this week.

Photos by Guardian photo by Brian McInnis

PREMIERS 2014

Published on 28 August 2014

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall chats with an actor with Confederation Players portraying Sir John A. Macdonald whn the premiers visited Province House Thursday. They are in Charlottetown for their meeting.

Photos by Guardian photo by Brian McInnis

PREMIERS 2014

Published on 28 August 2014

<p>082814 The premiers pose for a photograph on the steps of Province House Thursday along with the Confederation Players protraying the Fatherts and Mothers of Confederation. The premiers are meeeting in Charlottetown until Friday. Guardian photo by Brian McInnis</p>

Photos by Guardian photo by Brian McInnis

PREMIERS 2014

Published on 28 August 2014

Premier Robert Ghiz and the other premiers walk up to Province House Thursday for a teour. The premiers are meeeting in Charlottetown until Friday.

Photos by Guardian photo by Brian McInnis

PREMIERS 2014

Published on 28 August 2014

Canadian premiers and members of the Confederation Players walk up to Province House Thursday. The premiers are meeting in Chaarlottetown until Friday.

Photos by Guardian photo by Brian McInnis