The premier of the Northwest Territories says Canada’s premiers are close to agreeing on the basic outline of a national energy strategy.
Bob McLeod said Friday the premiers were working on a vision document as the premiers started their final day of talks at their annual meeting in Charlottetown.
The provinces have been talking about a national energy strategy for years, with Alberta leading the way. However, Quebec and British Columbia have resisted signing on.
But with a switch to a federalist Liberal government in Quebec last April and B.C. Premier Christy Clark dropping her objections last November, the main obstacles to a deal may have fallen away.
“For the first time, hopefully, we’ll have all of Canada’s premiers agreeing to work together on finalizing an energy strategy for Canada,” McLeod said in an interview.
He said the talks in Charlottetown this week have not be hampered by the fact that both Alberta and Newfoundland and Labrador–two of Canada’s largest energy producing provinces–are in the midst of selecting new premiers.
“They’re very much part of the discussion,” McLeod said. “We’re very hopeful that we can make some significant announcements here.”
McLeod said the premiers were also expected to discuss competitiveness, labour markets and internal trade.
The trade issue surfaced before the meeting even started when Clark announced that Saskatchewan had agreed to drop trade barriers that kept B.C. wine and craft spirits from being sold in the province. B.C. already allows other provinces to sell wine in the province.
Clark also said she expects Ontario to open its borders to B.C. wine.
“Premier (Kathleen) Wynne is talking about making this happen and I think we could probably do it in a few months,” she told a news conference.
“I’m hopeful that by the next meeting of Canada’s premiers, Canada’s borders will be open for wine right across this country.”
British Columbia’s new deal with Saskatchewan will allow consumers in both provinces to order B.C. or Saskatchewan wines and craft spirits directly from producers and have them delivered to their homes.
Clark said she hopes to see the agreement implemented next June.
British Columbia has already struck similar deals with Manitoba and Nova Scotia.