'Trying to make a difference': Finance minister speaks at Calgary meeting
CALGARY -- After meeting with Calgary's business community Thursday, federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau acknowledged his government is trying to do better in Western Canada.
"We’re trying to make a difference for people in a challenging time, that means listening is important, that means acting on concerns in a way that makes sense is important," Morneau told attendees of a roundtable discussion hosted by the Business Council of Alberta at Calgary's Hyatt Regency hotel Thursday.
The Business Council of Alberta says new progress on all three major pipeline projects as well the minority government’s outreach have calmed at least some of the discord.
"The reality is there’s more alignment than one would expect in terms of the priorities of both the federal government and the Business Council of Alberta," said president Adam Legge.
"We want to see shared growth and prosperity of all Albertans and all Canadians."
But some big asks are still sitting on the table — including Jason Kenney’s $2.5 billion whopper — money he says will create jobs and remediate abandoned oil wells. It's a request the feds are at least considering.
"Looking at our fiscal stabilization approach was appropriate, given that it hasn’t been looked at for many years, and that process is going on," said Morneau.
With high unemployment and commercial vacancy rates, Calgary sometimes feels like a distorted reflection of what it once was. But for some, there is at least cautious optimism that Ottawa may try to help.
Whether Albertans believe it may hinge on the results.
"Until the point that Albertans themselves, in their employment situation, in their pocketbooks, actually begin to see the fruits of those projects, I think the sentiment and the fear will still be there," said Legg.
The Business Council says the budget asks are more about the voice and narrative from the feds than specific policy changes.
Morneau was also asked about the cost of the TMX project. He said it would be up to the company to make any announcement.
Thursday afternoon, the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion got a major boost, as the Supreme Court unanimously rejected British Columbia’s appeal, which would have allowed the province to block the project.
Adam Legge said the federal government has also expressed willingness to modify both Bill C-69 and C-48 depending on industry feedback.