It was the first meeting between Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and the new Premier of Canada’s most populous province.
By some accounts, it was not a smooth meeting.
Newly installed Ontario Premier Doug Ford had already snubbed Trudeau by scrapping a carbon cap and trade tax scheme among Ontario, Quebec, and California. Trudeau has insisted Canada must tax carbon and has stated he will force a carbon tax of $20/tonne on the province if Ford doesn’t create a provincial carbon tax by September 1.
Ford in return has said he will fight any imposed carbon tax in court, although legal experts say Ottawa would likely win and a federal tax could be imposed by January 1.
Refugee system “a mess”
Following the meeting however, even greater cracks in the relationship were evident.
Just prior to the meeting, the Ford government issued a statement through a spokesperson which said in part, “Ontario will always be a welcoming province to those who want to come to our country legally. There is a process, however, that is currently not being followed by illegal border crossers. The Federal Government encouraged illegal border crossers to come into our country and the Federal Government continues to usher people across the U.S.-Quebec border into Ontario. This has resulted in a housing crisis, and threats to the services that Ontario families depend on. This mess was 100% the result of the Federal Government.”
After the meeting, Trudeau took about 20 minutes before speaking to reporters, presumably using the delay to formulate his response and then gave what might be construed as a thinly-veiled diplomatic insult. He told reporters that, “It didn’t seem to me the premier was quite as aware of our obligations … as he might have been. I spent a bit of time explaining how our asylum-seeking system works”.
Lisa MacLeod, the Ontario minister for the immigration file reacted by calling Trudeau’s remarks “disrespectful” and basically reiterating that the illegal migrants were Trudeau’s fault and the federal government should pay municipalities and the province for the added burden
The federal government announced last month it would pledge an initial $50 million for provinces to cope with “asylum seekers, with $11 million going to Ontario.
However Toronto Mayor John Tory has already said that city alone will need over $64 million by the end of the year to cope with the influx of thousands of asylum claimants. Tory has said the Toronto shelter system is already overwhelmed. Trudeau is set to meet with the Toronto mayor later today.
The neighbouring province of Quebec where the vast majority of illegal crossings into Canada occur, has also already sent a bill to Ottawa for $146 million.
These conflicts only add to another Ford-Trudeau issue brewing over the federal bail system. Provincial Attorney-General Caroline Mulroney who in an earlier letter to the Toronto mayor blamed the federal government for allowing “too many violent criminals back on our streets”.
Summer is usually a fairly relaxed time for governments in Canada. But it appears it may be a hot one in more ways than one, and when governments get back up to full speed later this year, the fall sessions may even be hotter.
- Globe and Mail:Giovenetti/Gray/Zilio: Jul 5.18: Ontario-federal battle over migrants
- Post Media: J Ivison: Jul 5/18: meeting “superheated”
- Canadian Press (via Global): P Loriggio: Ford Trudeau clash
- National Observer: C Meyer: Jul5.18: Trudeau schools Ford on refugees
- Vice News: T Khandaker: Jul 5/18: Ontario scales back support for asylum seekers