Premiers calling on Harper for meeting on economy

Alex Boutilier
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Metro Halifax

Premier Darrell Dexter, who is chairing the Council of the Federation meetings in Halifax this week, said if the prime minister doesn’t accept their invitation, an 'alternative' will be sought.

[HALIFAX, NS] — Canada’s 13 premiers are calling on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to meet with them on the state of the national economy.

Premier Darrell Dexter, who is chairing the Council of the Federation meetings in Halifax this week, said if the prime minister doesn’t accept their invitation, an “alternative” will be sought.

“We’re going make the offer, we’ll see what he has to say, and if not, we’ll have an appropriate response,” Dexter told reporters Thursday. “If (Harper) says no, there will have to be an alternative.”

When asked what that alternative may be, Dexter said he considers this invitation to be the beginning of the conversation, not the end.

The recent reluctance for Canada’s 22nd prime minister to meet with the premiers as a group has been an underlying narrative at this year’s Council of the Federation meetings. Dexter, as well as some of his counterparts, have bemoaned the Conservatives approach to the dealing with the provinces — an approach they say is evidenced by the recent unilateral decision on health care transfers.

Nova Scotia’s premier said he was hopeful the prime minister would accept this invitation, which would make it the first First Ministers meeting since 2009.

“He has 13 willing partners who want to construct and ensure a successful Canadian economy,” Dexter said. “We think that’s a good reason to come.”

The meeting, which would be held in Halifax and co-hosted by Alberta Premier Allison Redford and Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, is being planned for late November.

Geographic location: HALIFAX, Nova Scotia, Canada Alberta Ontario

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