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NEW−FOUND RESPECT? KLEIN HOPEFUL OF BETTER RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN FEDS, PROVINCES (The Edmonton Sun)

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The Edmonton Sun 2006.01.25 Final News 36 photo by Mark O'Neill, Sun Media Premier Ralph Klein talks to the C.D. Howe Institute ILLUSTRATION: yesterday in Toronto. BYLINE: DARCY HENTON, LEGISLATURE BUREAU WORD COUNT: 253 Canada's premiers are looking forward to a fresh start in federal−provincial relations after the demise of a Liberal government that failed to respect the division of powers, says Premier Ralph Klein. The premier told the C.D. Howe Institute in Toronto yesterday that he expects Stephen Harper's Conservative government −− unlike his predecessors Paul Martin and Jean Chretien − to respect provincial jurisdiction. "The past 15 years of federal−provincial wrangling over everything from health care to day care can be traced to a federal government that did not respect that division of powers," Klein said in the speech provided to Alberta legislature reporters. He said he wasn't rejecting the role of the federal government, but "you either have a constitution or you don't." Klein said he and his fellow premiers simply want to be able to deliver programs and services "without a continual stream of directives from Ottawa saying 'don't do this' and 'don't do that.' " "My understanding is Mr. Harper has promised just that: not a downloading of new responsibilities to the provinces, but rather a respect for the existing responsibilities we already have," Klein said. The premier said Ottawa must recognize that one size doesn't fit all the provinces. Its duplication of provincial efforts creates "needless overlap" and reduces accountability, he said. "The fundamentally different views of this country that provincial governments and the last federal government held led to difficult negotiations on many fronts, which in turn has created hard feelings and mistrust," Klein said. "Now we can start anew." The provinces and federal government can work together to develop labour markets, invest in transportation infrastructure, build a better education system and improve Canada−U.S. relations, he said. NDP Leader Brian Mason warned that Harper's hands−off approach could enable Klein to violate the Canada Health Act by introducing a private system. "I think he will find an ally in Mr. Harper in that agenda," Mason said.

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