Federal government's special representative for the Prairies makes initial visit to Calgary

Liberal MP Jim Carr speaks with the media before entering the Prime Minister's office on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday November 21, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS / Adrian Wyld

Jim Carr, the federal government’s special representative for the Prairies, is making his first visit to Calgary since his appointment. 

Amid concerns of separation, Carr is talking about his role in bolstering Western Canada's voice in Ottawa. 

Carr spoke at the Fairmont Palliser Hotel late Tuesday morning followed by a question-and-answer period. He then met with oil and gas executives, including representatives from Trans Canada, Cenovus, Suncor and Bridge, for a roundtable discussion.

The Winnipeg MP is a former minister of natural resources and was appointed to his newest role after the Liberal party was swept out of Alberta and Saskatchewan in the last federal election. His role is to fill in for the lack of representation from those provinces. 

Carr’s background as minister of international trade and diversification is expected to bring strength to the role, although his recent announcement that he is fighting blood cancer could pose a challenge. 

There are some tough obstacles ahead with Carr’s new portfolio. 

He will be acting as the "eyes and ears" of Justin Trudeau in Western Canada amidst growing frustration and a crumbling oil and gas industry. Several Canadian oil companies have already headed south after thousands of job losses, but Carr says he understands those concerns. 

The hope now is to unite the prairie provinces and bring forth economic prosperity, even after the Wexit-movement announced last week its official eligibility as a federal party. 

Western separation Wexit rallies have been held over the past few months in an effort to free Alberta from the federal carbon tax and what the party claims to be unfair regulations imposed on Canada’s energy sectors. The fight also continues against anti-tanker and anti-pipeline bills like C-48 and C-69. 

Alberta appears to be a focus of the Liberal government at the moment as Carr's visit follows last week's appearance by Depute Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland.

Meanwhile, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is continuing to threaten a referendum on federal equalization payments and says he will continue to fight for a "fair deal" as a final round of town hall events are scheduled to take place this week. 

The final fair deal panel events this week include: 

  • Airdrie Town and Country Centre (Jan. 16 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.)
  • Medicine Hat Exhibition & Stampede Auditorium (Jan. 17 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.)