By Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press
KENORA, Ont. – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he believes he can work with Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister despite public disagreement on several key files.
Trudeau and Pallister have a meeting scheduled in Winnipeg on Saturday.
Pallister’s government is the lone province to hold out on signing a health-funding deal with Ottawa and he has been a vocal critic of Trudeau’s plan to legalize marijuana next July.
Pallister also wants details from Ottawa on any plan for the northern Manitoba port of Churchill, which had its only land link to the south cut off by flooding in the spring.
While there may be friction, Trudeau says the time when levels of government constantly fought with each other is over.
“We are going to continue to work constructively and look for positive working relationships with everyone,” Trudeau said while in Kenora, Ont., on Friday.
“The time in which Canadians want to see levels of government fighting with each other is long past. They want to see a respectful, positive approach and that’s what I always do.”
Last month, Pallister blasted the federal government’s handling of health-funding negotiations, calling them “dangerous, reckless and risky.”
Under the deal, Ottawa limits annual health-transfer increases to three per cent a year — half the six per cent annual increase set out in the last long-term agreement with the provinces. But the federal government has offered up extra money for specific projects in various provinces.
“Why would I take a nickel on behalf of Manitobans, what kind of premier would I be, if I accepted that inducement of that shiny nickel now and sacrificed a whole dollar over the next decade for health care?” Pallister said.
Pallister went into a meeting of premiers in Edmonton last week lobbying for Ottawa to delay cannabis legalization by one year so that provinces can have more time to prepare.
His fellow premiers didn’t go that far, but they did emerge with a list of concerns that they said need to be addressed before the recreational cannabis becomes legal July 1.
On Churchill, Pallister has said he needs to know what Ottawa’s plans are for the port before any decisions can be made on whether the flooded rail line should be fixed.
Omnitrax, the Denver-based company that owns the line, has said it can be repaired between $20 million and $60 million, but the company doesn’t plan to spend the money.
Trudeau’s first meeting in Winnipeg was on Friday afternoon with Mayor Brian Bowman.
Bowman began by noting it was the first visit to city hall by a sitting prime minister in nearly a century — the last being William Lyon Mackenzie King.
Trudeau said he looks forward to continuing “solid partnerships” with cities on areas of mutual interest such as infrastructure and immigration.
— With files from James Turner in Winnipeg.