Canada’s new federal government has a lot on its plate as it transitions its civil service from the previous administration.
One thing that looks positive from their initial weeks in office is the amount of communication that appears to be happening with groups outside the sphere of Ottawa.
This week’s first ministers meeting is one example of expanded communication. It’s the first time in seven years that B.C. Premier Christy Clark and the rest of the country’s premiers have met for talks with the prime minister. Talking strategy for dealing with climate change – an obvious discussion point with the United Nations Climate Change Conference getting underway next week in Paris – and the impending resettling of Syrian refugees in Canada are the two main issues.
But the act of getting together to compare notes, listen to the regional challenges being faced by other areas of the country, and how they feel about specific issues is a good way to start the new government’s relationship with the provinces.
It has been said many times that information is power. Creating a space for provincial leaders – the people heading up the jurisdictions responsible for the delivery of many government services – to share what works and what doesn’t with their federal counterparts is critical to moving forward.
We don’t expect that everyone will agree on ways forward when it comes to the big issues like greenhouse gas reduction targets, environmental protection and refugee resettlement. But getting together to share ideas early on is a good start to ensure the best ideas come forward, now or in the future.
We hope Premier Clark and her crew leave the meetings with optimism and a sense that the Trudeau government will be a good partner and ally in developing future strategies.
After all, how the province and feds work together ultimately effects our cities and neighbourhoods. Often it’s in less visible ways, such as health care funding. But sometimes it’s in large ways, as on major initiatives like the McKenzie Interchange, the sewage treatment program and the Johnson Street Bridge.