Brian Pallister applauded Chrystia Freeland’s appointment as intergovernmental affairs minister, and said he looks forward to working with Winnipeg MP Jim Carr in his new role as regional adviser for the Prairies.
"I would say that the star of the previous federal term, in my humble opinion, was Chrystia Freeland," the Manitoba premier said Wednesday of the former foreign affairs minister. "She handled her files on trade admirably."
Pallister has long lobbied for a reduction in interprovincial trade barriers and improved provincial co-operation on issues such as procurement. Freeland was also named deputy prime minister in Wednesday’s cabinet shuffle.
"I expect that Minister Freeland will be more than able to face those challenges as we work with her in partnership to make the country stronger," Pallister said.
The Manitoba premier called Carr "a person of ideas and of demonstrated competence." He thanked the former international trade diversification minister for his cabinet service.
"Clearly, one of the things that we felt was missing from the first-term federal Liberal government was that they did not appoint regional ministers," Pallister said. "So we didn’t have a counterpart to go to, as a conduit, to get through on some of the significant issues. I think that is perhaps one of the roles that Mr. Carr now will be able to assist us in."
As much as he welcomed Carr’s appointment, Pallister said the Trudeau government could do more to address western alienation by taking action on the construction of an oil pipeline and proceeding with a massive flood mitigation project in Manitoba.
"When we see that real progress, that will go a long way to addressing some of the concerns of my colleagues to the West and, I think, to the East, as well," he told reporters.
Pallister congratulated Saint Boniface—Saint Vital MP Dan Vandal for being elevated to cabinet as minister of northern affairs.
Asked about the decision to name a middle-class prosperity minister, the premier expressed his doubts. He said he was interested in receiving more details about the nascent department.
"At first blush, it sounds to me like more billboarding and labelling than it does an effective portfolio," Pallister said. "I’m not criticizing the appointment of the minister (Ottawa MP Mona Fortier) specifically, but… it sounds to me like it’s overlapping with other ministries. So, we’ll see how effective such a ministry may be."
Manitoba NDP Leader Wab Kinew congratulated Vandal on his promotion.
"Northern Manitoba, northern Canada, has a lot of challenges right now. And hopefully Mr. Vandal can bring some understanding so we get issues like drinking water, youth suicides and lack of employment addressed," he said.
Larry Kusch didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life until he attended a high school newspaper editor’s workshop in Regina in the summer of 1969 and listened to a university student speak glowingly about the journalism program at Carleton University in Ottawa.