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'One loud voice of defiance': Kenney challenges Trudeau to support Alberta energy
EDMONTON -- Premier Jason Kenney phoned Justin Trudeau privately before calling him out publicly Tuesday afternoon, challenging the re-elected prime minister and his new Liberal minority government to support Alberta's energy industry.
Kenney said he called Trudeau to congratulate him on his win, but also to issue him a five-page letter outlining steps Ottawa could take to "demonstrate good will to people of Alberta."
He said Albertans spoke with "one voice of defiance," noting his province elected 33 of a possible 34 Conservative candidates on election night with 69 per cent of all Alberta votes.
He said the letter also outlined Alberta's plans to hold a referendum on equalization if the Trans Mountain Pipeline isn't built or amendments aren't made to Bill C-69, dubbed by critics as the "No More Pipelines Act."
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"That was a very diverse spectrum of Albertans who sent a message last night. Many of them are saying they don’t feel at home in their own country," he said.
Kenney called getting Alberta oil to foreign markets the province's "number one strategic economic imperative."
"We are going to force our fight for a fair deal on to the national agenda”
TRANS MOUNTAIN PIPELINE FUTURE
Much of Alberta's angst centres on the future of the Trans Mountain Pipeline in the new Liberal minority government.
Kenney said that he warned the prime minister against making any partisan deal that would "endanger progress" of the project.
In his victory speech Monday night Trudeau acknowledged the "frustration" felt by the western provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta.
"Know that you are an essential part of our great country. I’ve heard your frustration and I want to be there to support you. Let us all work hard to bring our country together," Trudeau said.
Kenney called on the prime minister to put that notion into action.
"Those are fine words. But if we are to avoid real, lasting damage to the unity and prosperity of this federation they must be more than words."
The election result spurred feeling of western alienation, with the Conservatives gaining 18 seats in the west while the Liberals lost 15.
Social media saw a spur in Alberta separatist sentiment, with "Wexit" a portmanteau for "western exit," going viral in the hours after the results became clear.
"It used to be the west wants in, and now it's the west wants out, and it's a serious discussion," former Conservative MP Rona Ambrose told the CTV National News election panel.
Today, Kenney says he wants to work with the new federal government, but says Trudeau must do more for the province.
"This relationship needs some good faith from Ottawa," he said.
"And if it doesn’t get that I fear the alienation will go in a very problematic direction."