'Squabbling' between Manitoba and Ottawa should end, Jim Carr says

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'Squabbling' between Manitoba and Ottawa should end, Jim Carr says

Manitobans don't want to see politicians battle over major issues such as health care and climate change, and Premier Brian Pallister should stop fighting the funding deal the federal government is offering, says Liberal cabinet minister Jim Carr.

"I can tell you, really, there is not much of an appetite for politicians squabbling these days and for very aggressive language to be used. People want to see that their political leaders are working together respectfully towards common objectives," said Carr, Manitoba's senior MP.

Manitoba is the only province that hasn't signed a health-care funding deal, after all provinces initially rejected the federal government's offer in December. Pallister has said a deal is contingent on a meeting between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and all provincial and territorial leaders.

Carr, the MP for Winnipeg South Centre and the natural resources minister, said the federal government has heard Pallister's message that Ottawa must listen to Manitoba's concerns.

"He is heard. All the provinces have been heard," said Carr, Manitoba's only MP in the federal cabinet.

"We [Manitoba MPs and Carr, as a member of cabinet] don't see it as 'we-they.' As far as I'm concerned, Manitobans are us."

And the $60-million high-tech Factory of the Future facility planned for Manitoba is still on track, Carr said, despite a letter that suggested Pallister's stand on the health-care transfer could threaten funding arrangements.

The letter, written by a senior provincial civil servant on Tuesday to the federal finance minister's chief of staff, expressed concern that "linkages" had been made between the health-care deal and the Factory of the Future.

The Factory of the Future program is a "national project that is worthy and we continue to be committed to it," Carr said.

"[Innovation] Minister [Navdeep] Bains was quoted yesterday in Winnipeg, saying the government of Canada is still fully committed to Factory of the Future, and I believe it is too."

Despite multiple irritants between the federal and provincial governments — Pallister has taken a hard line on Canada Pension Plan reform and also refused to sign a national climate change plan — Carr said it's time to end the fighting between the two sides.

The health-care deal being offered to Manitoba is a good one and Pallister should sign on, he said.

"It is additional funds for Manitobans. I believe it has been in interests of the 12 [provinces and] territories that have agreed with Ottawa, for their people. And I think it is in the interests of Manitobans as well."