While it may be true that Alison Redford and Christie Clark are having a strong and public disagreement, at least they can sit around the same table and talk. And talk they did last week -- with all the other members of the Council of the Federation. Apparently, Stephen Harper believes that joining them is beneath his dignity.
Last week, the premiers put Harper on notice: His refusal to deal with them as a group was no longer acceptable. Michael Harris writes that Jean Charest put the issue succinctly:
Unilateralism was effectively bringing about the de-confederation of the country. The media had fallen for the seductive spin of Ottawa on a number of foundational issues, none more important than health care. In plain language, Charest said, Ottawa is abandoning medicare in Canada and is trying to cover that fact with “spin”, which the media is falling for like teeny-boppers seeking locks of Justin Bieber’s hair.
And Robert Ghiz said that the Prime Minister's one size fits all solutions were simply unwise:
Prince Edward Island, the premier said with both dignity and dash, had three main industries, all of them seasonal: agriculture, the fishery, and tourism. To reform EI, without consulting the provinces, and reducing all of the very different places in Canada to the same formula, simply lacked “common sense”. Not everybody could, or should, move to Alberta.
Even Saskatchewan's Brad Wall was on Ghiz' side:
“On the big, federal fiscal tools, and the way they have been used, I agree with my good friend Robert,” said Wall. “There hasn’t been the necessary consultation and it is not the case that one size fits all in Canada. In fact, there are 58 distinct regions across the country so the need for consultation is very great.”
And, in the interest of consultation, the premiers invited Harper to their next conference on the economy. The subject should interest Harper. He claims -- however dubiously -- to be an economist. But he's not in the habit of meeting those he considers lesser mortals.