Canadian premier ‘encouraged’ by Justin Trudeau but no specific announcements

The Nova Scotia premier, Stephen McNeil, said on Wednesday that he had no specific commitments from the federal government after meetings with the prime minister but that he was encouraged by Justin Trudeau’s planned meeting with a reporter from the Halifax Chronicle Herald.

In a press conference in Halifax, McNeil noted that meetings with ministers over the past week had focused heavily on the federal government’s financial support for the province’s ecological heritage, education, culture and film industries.

“I’m encouraged but we had no timelines on any of those things,” McNeil said. “If you’re interested in having a conversation about infrastructure, that’s in my plate.”

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On Friday, McNeil met with the Canadian environment minister, Catherine McKenna, and the Canadian heritage minister, Melanie Joly, to discuss potential funding for ocean research, the harbour and bridge projects, and film industry and Indigenous heritage initiatives.

McNeil said they were “very similar directions” and that he was “pleased to see that vision shared by ministers”.

In a separate meeting with the federal cabinet on Monday, McNeil discussed federal support for the province’s cultural industries, renewable energy and the status of an Indigenous treaty in Nee’s Dairy Harbour. The premier also met with representatives from the National Energy Board (NEB) and the Canadian energy minister, Catherine McKenna, about climate change and forestry.

McNeil said his meetings with ministers were more substantive than a question-and-answer session with Justin Trudeau’s ministers in Ottawa last week, which McNeil skipped.

“I took the decision to stick to Nova Scotia and Nova Scotians,” he said. “I wanted to talk about things that matter in Nova Scotia and these meetings are now intended to do that.”

Like the minister in charge of his province, McNeil did not draw any clear conclusions from the meetings but said the positive dialogue was encouraging.

On Tuesday, Trudeau and Canadian finance minister Bill Morneau held a meeting with members of the Canadian media – all of whom are print reporters – and the prime minister responded to their questions.

The prime minister told reporters he hopes to meet with a Herald reporter later this week and said meeting with reporters “ought to happen more”.

On Tuesday, journalists with the Globe and Mail, the CBC and the Toronto Star joined two reporters from the Chronicle Herald. McNeil told reporters the meetings were “very helpful” and said the media had “clearly brought a lot of complex issues up to us”.

“I appreciate all those questions,” McNeil said. “I do want to say, though, that they are very unimportant compared to making decisions about things that matter.”

In the media scrum, Trudeau dodged the question of whether he thought the budget was a good “mechanism” for subsidies to Nova Scotia, but he said he believes the “way through our country will be a dynamic economy” where government officials are not party to the decisions of businesses.

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