Premier Dennis King and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland exchanged warm words before discussing housing, health care and trade in Charlottetown on Friday.
Freeland, on her first visit to Prince Edward Island, is also the minister of intergovernmental affairs. Since last fall’s election, she has been tasked with overseeing the sometimes-fraught relationship between Ottawa and the provinces. She met with Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil on Wednesday and New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs on Thursday.
King said Freeland’s role has improved the mood among Canada’s premiers.
"It's been refreshing since your arrival to the post since the last election,” King said in opening remarks before his meeting.
“We do feel that there's a renewed sense of optimism at our table, and I think that extends largely to you, your personality and your genuine nature."
"I've been looking forward to this opportunity to discuss in greater detail some of the issues facing the Island and also to get the premier's perspective on some of the broader national issues that we're working on together,” Freeland said.
“He is a very valued partner for us in Ottawa.”
Freeland did not take questions from media following her meeting with King.
King, who did speak with media afterwards, said he was asked by Freeland to play a role in supporting the new Canada-U.S.-Mexico Agreement. The agreement is due to come before a vote in the House of Commons in the coming weeks.
“She asked me to take a role within the Progressive Conservative movement to make sure that gets ratified in Ottawa quickly," King said.
"As Prince Edward Islanders, as we all know, export and trade with the United States is probably one of the most important areas for us."
As minister of foreign affairs, Freeland took a lead role in renegotiating the NAFTA agreement with the Trump administration.
King also said he expressed to Freeland his support for a national pharmacare program and reiterated a December request from Canadian premiers for a 5.2 per cent yearly increase in health-care funding.
Freeland also met with Charlottetown Mayor Philip Brown and other Charlottetown councillors.
Speaking after the meeting, Brown said he raised his desire to see the Employment Insurance system returned to a single zone in P.E.I., with the same requirements across the board.
"She will be going back to Ottawa to speak to the four (members of Parliament) from Prince Edward Island to find out if there's consensus," Brown said.
"We want to make sure that the system is fair for all Islanders."
Brown said his meeting also touched on funding for electrification of Charlottetown’s fleet of buses. In addition, councillors aised council’s desire to see a new multi-use sports facility to replace the Eastlink Centre.
"I showed her figures from the Centre D'Avenir, which is in Moncton, and the monies or funds that were gained or contributed by the federal government," Brown said.
"She said she would go back to her infrastructure minister, who is Catherine McKenna, and see which way they can go with that discussion."
Brown recently met with McKenna during a visit to Ottawa. He told The Guardian McKenna was not supportive of funding a replacement sports facility since it would house both professional and semi-professional teams.