Premiers’ talks ends in pact with benefits to P.E.I.: Ghiz

Teresa Wright twright@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on August 29, 2014

Prince Edward Island Premier Robert Ghiz is flanked by Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, left, and Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard, right, at the closing news conference of the annual Council of the Federation meeting in Charlottetown on Friday, August 29, 2014.

©THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Premier Robert Ghiz says agreements struck between Canada’s premiers on a national energy strategy and internal trade will benefit Prince Edward Island.

The Council of the Federation meetings wrapped up Friday in Charlottetown with a news conference wherein the premiers announced Quebec has now joined the other provinces and territories in agreeing to develop a national energy strategy.

Ghiz said this could help pave the way for a west-east pipeline bringing cheaper, domestic oil to the Maritimes. It could also mean more electricity options for P.E.I.

“The more free flow of electricity through Canada, the more options there is for us to purchase what we need,” Ghiz said.

“We are doing quite well with our wind, we’re up to 30 or 35 per cent, but we still need other power, and the more options there are, the cheaper the price and the cleaner we’ll get for Prince Edward Island.”

The premiers also agreed to a comprehensive renewal of the almost 20-year-old Agreement on Internal Trade.

More free flow of workers, goods and services across the country strengthens economies and allows the entire country greater ability to capitalize on domestic and international opportunities, the premiers said.

During the week, a few provinces announced smaller inter-provincial agreements aimed at breaking down trade barriers and improving labour mobility.

Both New Brunswick and Nova Scotia signed deals with western provinces to allow workers better access to work and apprenticeships in the respective provinces.

Ghiz said a similar apprenticeship agreement will be coming to P.E.I., but would not provide any details.

The premiers’ meetings this week in Charlottetown were being hailed by all the premiers as among the most successful in recent years due to the fact Quebec now has a federalist premier willing to negotiate and reach consensus on a number of issues with his counterparts.

“We have a fully functioning premiers table right now, and I think it’s going to lead to a better Canada,” Ghiz said.

This consensus approach allowed the provinces to turn a glaring spotlight toward Ottawa.