The Council of the Federation: A Social Media Review
Last week Halifax, Nova Scotia hosted Canada’s premiers and territorial leaders for the annual Council of the Federation meetings. The meetings promised to be great political theater as the premiers and territorial leaders tackled the subjects of health care reform and the creation of a national energy strategy. As the premiers met in ‘Canada’s Ocean Playground’ Canadians across the country weighed in with their thoughts on social media.
Center Stage: Health-care delivery and the debate over a national energy strategy.
Premiers Brad Wall of Saskatchewan, and Robert Ghiz of Prince Edward Island presented their report on health-care reform at this year’s summit. It was at last year’s Council of the Federation that the premiers were taken by surprise when Ottawa announced its decision to stop using its funding power to enforce national standards of service delivery, and give the provinces more autonomy to recreate their health-care systems. The premier’s report: ‘From Innovation to Action’ is the first public response from the provinces.
The biggest announcement was that the provinces will begin purchasing generic prescription drugs in an effort expected to save millions of dollars. Premier Ghiz has suggested this plan could save the Atlantic provinces upwards of $15 million dollars annually.
National Energy Strategy.
The debate over a national energy strategy was the other topic to dominate this year’s Council of the Federation meetings. Premier Alison Redford of Alberta has been advocating for the creation of a national energy strategy. Such a strategy would allow Alberta to move its land locked oil through British Columbia via privately owned, publicly regulated pipelines and deliver it to Asia bound tankers.
The national energy strategy is a politically contentious issue. Premier Redford of Alberta and Premier Christy Clark of British Columbia have been exchanging words for some time over royalties earned by the Northern Gateway project – BC is fighting for greater royalties. The dispute boiled over Friday when Premier Clark announced that British Columbia would not sign a national energy strategy unless it met a list of demands.
While the national energy strategy is territorially a western issue the Atlantic Canadian premiers are demanding it be a truly national strategy. Atlantic Canada is concerned about energy self-sufficiency and New Brunswick’s premier, David Alward, raised the issue of extending an oil pipeline to the region to relieve the pressure of having to purchase foreign oil.
Premiers Greg Selinger of Manitoba, Alison Redford of Alberta, and Kathy Dunderdale of Newfoundland & Labrador will be chairing the national energy portfolio as the premiers forge ahead with the plan with or without British Columbia.
The Social Reaction
Canadians kept track of the proceedings on social media throughout last week; following and debating the issues as they emerged. Not surprisingly Canadians focused their attention on health-care and the national energy strategy. Both subjects saw a triple digit percentage increase in total conversations over the week before.
Mentions of the premiers increased as well. Not surprisingly the premiers Christy Clark and Alison Redford dominated social conversations, followed by Nova Scotia premier and host, Darrell Dexter. Premiers Brad Wall and Robert Ghiz, authors of the health-care report, round out the top five mentions.
Next year’s Council of the Federation is scheduled to be hosted by Ontario.