Doug Ford prepared to walk away from first ministers' meeting over agenda issues

TORONTO — Doug Ford's office says the Ontario premier is prepared to walk away from a meeting of first ministers if it does not include specific discussions on the carbon tax.

Ford is set to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Montreal this afternoon ahead of Friday's meeting of Canada's federal, provincial and territorial leaders.

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The premier's office says discussions are underway with federal officials over the meeting's agenda.

Sources familiar with the dispute say Ford and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe have not been satisfied by the federal response that the agenda already includes a discussion on economic competitiveness — a broad topic that Ottawa says will allow premiers to raise all the issues they please.

Ontario Government House Leader Todd Smith says the agenda for the meeting doesn't deal with the concerns of the provinces, which include the carbon tax, a planned General Motors plant closure in Ontario and the oil price crisis.

Federal officials have privately conceded that little headway is likely to be made on the official objective of the meeting: reducing interprovincial trade barriers.

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