Trudeau Gets an Earful but Opposition Seeks Common Ground

November 12, 2019 Updated: November 13, 2019

OTTAWA—Prime Minister Justin Trudeau faced two major opponents on Nov. 12: the Conservative opposition leader and the Conservative premier of Saskatchewan.

Trudeau met with each man shortly after announcing he will lay out the priorities for his new minority government on Dec. 5, the day the House of Commons will convene for the first time since the October election.

On the same day, members of Parliament will elect a Speaker from their ranks and then hear the government’s throne speech.

With a minority government, the opposition parties could easily trigger an election by voting to reject that speech, as it is a considered a measure of confidence.

After presenting his own priorities for the 43rd Parliament to Trudeau on Nov. 12, Conservative leader Andrew Scheer suggested he remains undecided as to whether he’ll support the speech.

“It’s up to Mr. Trudeau to find  common ground to get his throne speech passed,” Scheer told reporters.

“I highlighted the areas we would be focusing on, the parts of our platform that we believe should be implemented, and it’s up to him to decide what to do with that.”

Scheer suggested the two could find common ground in areas both parties made promises on during the campaign: making maternal and parental benefits tax−free, funds to expand public transit in Toronto, and other tax cuts. Trudeau has long said his first move in the new Parliament will be to introduce tax cuts.

Ahead of his meeting with Scheer, he said voters expect MPs to get to work quickly.

“Last month, Canadians elected a Parliament that they expect to work together and that’s exactly what I’m going to be focusing on doing,” Trudeau said.

“I’m going to be talking about our priorities this morning of affordability for Canadians, growth for the middle class, and the fight against climate change, and I look forward to discussing those and other issues with Mr. Scheer this morning.”

After the meeting, which lasted less than 30 minutes, Trudeau welcomed Scott Moe, the premier of Saskatchewan, into his office.

Moe had been clear heading into the meeting what he was putting on the table: demands for a one−year pause on the federal carbon tax in Saskatchewan, a reworked equalization formula, and the completion of oil pipelines.

Trudeau suggested he hoped the two could find some common ground, saying “Canada does well when Saskatchewan does well.”

Moe agreed, but noted that as Saskatchewan has prospered in recent years, the province has become an “outsize contributor” to Canada’s broader success.