Wynne optimistic Trudeau Liberals will work with provinces

Ontario premier says she is confident the new federal government will enhance the Canada Pension Plan.

October 22, 2015   by The Canadian Press

TORONTO — Premier Kathleen Wynne says Canada now has a federal leader willing to work with the provinces on a range of issues, but Ontario won’t be presenting Justin Trudeau with a list of demands.

Wynne took an unusually high profile for a premier in the federal campaign, clashing publicly with Conservative leader Stephen Harper and urging voters to support Trudeau’s Liberals and what she said was his more positive vision for the country.

“Last night Canadians gave our government the real federal partner that we need in order to make progress together,” said Wynne. “We will once again have a partner in Ottawa with the same values and the same priorities, not just of the government of Ontario, but much more importantly, of the people of Ontario.”

There’s no quid pro quo in the relationship that means Trudeau owes Wynne for helping propel his Liberals from third place to a majority government, she said.

“I want to just be clear that this is not about a transactional checking of boxes, that’s not what the relationship is about,” said Wynne. “It is not a matter of me taking my list to Ottawa and saying: ‘Okay, now you have to deliver on these things.”’

Wynne is optimistic Trudeau does want to enhance the Canada Pension Plan, but said he can’t do it alone so Ontario will still proceed with its own provincial pension for now, with mandatory contributions from employers and workers.

“He has to work with all of the provinces, so we are going to continue to work on implementing the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan,” she said. “We can’t stop because there’s a time commitment we’ve made to the people of Ontario.”

The provincial pension plan is scheduled to begin on Jan. 1, 2017.

She’s also hopeful Trudeau will follow through on his promises to “make massive investments” in transit, roads and bridges, which dovetails with Ontario’s 10-year, $130-billion infrastructure plan.

“Now that we have a federal partner with the same priorities, we can do more, and we can do it faster,” said Wynne. “Trudeau has been talking about the importance of those investments throughout this campaign.”

Wynne warned that she and Trudeau won’t always agree on every issue, but said all the provinces are looking forward to working with a more co-operative federal government on everything from jobs and the economy to the refugee crisis and the need for an inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women.

“I’m thrilled as the premier of Ontario that we have a federal government now that wants to work with the provinces, that will come to meetings, that will develop relationships that will allow us to solve the problems that we face,” she said. “Do not underestimate how important that is for the future of this country.”

The first test of Trudeau’s willingness to work with the provinces will be as Canada develops a strategy for next month’s climate change talks in France, said Wynne.

“The first manifestation of that partnership is one that you’re going to see when we travel to Paris on climate change, and the commitment that Justin Trudeau has made to work with provinces in order to support our initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” she said.

Asked about Trudeau’s plans to legalize marijuana, Wynne said “it’s an issue whose time has come in terms of a national discussion.”

© 2015 The Canadian Press

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