Hon. Diane Bellemare: Welcome, minister. I was looking at your mandate letter earlier. You face incredible challenges with respect to federal-provincial relations, infrastructure and communities. I was thinking that the bilateral relations with each of the provinces and territories may not be an adequate tool for meeting these challenges in a major economic context where there are imminent crises, including the climate crisis.
Have you thought about creating a somewhat permanent consensus-building forum for the federal government, the provinces and territories and the private sector, a sort of economic and social council like they have in more than 70 countries around the world?
Hon. Dominic LeBlanc, P.C., M.P., Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities: Thank you for your question. You’re quite right. Bilateral relations between Canada and the various provinces and territories, at certain times and in certain files, can be a vehicle for advancing shared priorities.
I’m fortunate to have very friendly personal relationships with several provincial and territorial premiers including, for example, Ontario’s Premier Ford and Saskatchewan’s Premier Moe. I would say that we’ve become friends as a result of my work with them. This doesn’t mean that these relationships are always easy.
The idea of creating a multilateral forum for the issues you identified so clearly, and that don’t affect just one province in particular, is very interesting. We already hold federal-provincial-territorial meetings with ministers of infrastructure, the environment, transport, and internal trade, a position I once held. These are opportunities for the federal government and its partners in the federation to meet.
The idea of having a round table with other partners, and not just those representing different levels of government, is very interesting. This forum could include the private sector and NGOs, for example, to fight climate change. I’ll be very pleased to speak to my colleague, Minister Guilbeault, and with other colleagues who have exactly this type of relationship, which is more multilateral than just unidirectional or bidirectional, with the provinces. Thank you for the question.