"Very much like the premier, I am here to look for common ground. Certainly our government heard from Alberta a strong message in the election, and that means we have to listen really hard. That's what I'm here today to do, Freeland said before the meeting.
Kenney released a statement following the meeting in which he said that he appreciated Freeland's willingness "o listen and work with Alberta."
"I hope that we will see concrete action on our urgent economic priorities." The Premier also said that he and the Deputy PM covered a number of hot-button topics, including the CN Rail strike, the Trans Mountain Expansion pipeline, and transfer payments to Alberta," he stated.
The meeting comes amid rising tensions between the federal government and the western province, which has even spawned talk of a sovereignty movement known as 'Wexit'. Alberta is mired in a state of economic turbulence, hard-hit by slumping oil prices and regulations that have halted pipeline projects that would have facilitated Alberta's ability to bring its crude oil to new markets. Many Albertans place the blame for the province's struggles at the feet of the governing Liberals, which saw them swept out of Alberta and the province of Saskatchewan during the federal election in October.
The meeting with Kenney is the beginning of a western tour for Freeland, who was promoted to the role and handed the intergovernmental affairs portfolio in part because of her western Canadian heritage and her diplomatic savvy, as the outgoing Foreign Minister. Later on Tuesday, she will meet with Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson and deliver greetings at an event hosted by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress. Tomorrow the Deputy PM will meet with another western counterpart, Saskatchewan Premier, Scott Moe, whose province is also experiencing economic hardship.