Freeland in Alberta to meet with Kenney, Iveson in first trip since being named deputy PM

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland will be in Alberta on Monday for meetings with Western leaders in the first trip of her new role.

Freeland, formerly the minister of foreign affairs, was promoted in last week’s cabinet shuffle and named both deputy prime minister and minister of intergovernmental affairs in what has been billed as an effort by the government to put its focus on addressing deep regional divisions.

As part of that, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has held a series of meetings with leaders from the Western provinces since he was re-elected with a minority.

Those include in-person meetings in Ottawa and phone calls with Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe and Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister as well as local mayors from across the West.

On Friday, he also met with Ontario Premier Doug Ford, who has, along with the Western premiers, been a frequent critic of Trudeau’s carbon tax but last week called for national unity and a calming of the political rhetoric.

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READ MORE: ‘We have to calm the temperature’ — Ford strikes united tone after Trudeau meeting

Freeland was in that meeting as well, and the Monday trip to meet with both Kenney and Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson marks her first with the new tasks set to her in the deputy prime minister role, which Trudeau said last week would have a large focus on trying to bring the country together.

‘We’re a big family’: Ford says country needs to be united after Trudeau meeting

‘We’re a big family’: Ford says country needs to be united after Trudeau meeting

“Chrystia and I have worked very closely on some of the biggest files facing Canada,” he said following the cabinet shuffle.

“Our ability to work well together on these issues — which, quite frankly, touch national unity, the environment, touch relations with all provinces and regions in this country — is going to be a very important thing at a time when we see a range of perspectives across the country that need to be brought together.”

READ MORE: Trudeau unveils major cabinet changes with Freeland as deputy PM, new ministers for diversity, middle class

Freeland, who remains the minister responsible for Canada’s relations with the U.S. as well, said many of the lessons she learned renegotiating the NAFTA trade deal will directly apply to how she approaches trying to heal divides with the Western provinces.

“I think what we have to do as a federal government when it comes to the West, as with all our relationships, is really listen hard,” she told reporters last week.

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“The election sent a message from the West to our party, and now is a moment when we need to respond, to begin with, by listening really hard and effectively.”

Freeland is also set to meet with Moe in Regina on Tuesday.

We need to ‘really listen hard’ when it comes to the west: Freeland

We need to ‘really listen hard’ when it comes to the west: Freeland

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