Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tours the Vital Metals rare earth elements processing plant in Saskatoon during a media event on Monday, Jan. 16, 2023. Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says the Prime Minister's Office has apologized for leaving him off the invite list. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Liam Richards

Prime Minister’s Office apologizes for leaving Saskatchewan premier off guest list

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office has apologized for not informing him about a visit to the province this week.

Trudeau was in Saskatoon on Monday to tour a rare earth elements processing plant along with the city’s mayor, Charlie Clark.

The premier was not on the invite list.

Moe complained on Twitter, calling the snub “disappointing” since the federal and provincial governments see eye-to-eye on the development of critical and rare earth minerals.

“The province was left off the list for reasons I don’t know. Are my feelings hurt by this? No, certainly not. But this is a missed opportunity,” he said Monday.

Moe told reporters in Regina that he wanted to “briefly” speak with Trudeau about further investments on rare earth elements in Saskatchewan and net-zero emissions strategies for processing plants.

Trudeau’s office later apologized for not informing him of the visit to the province ahead of time, the premier said.

When asked about the tweet on Monday, Trudeau said there have been many opportunities to make announcements with Moe over the years.

A spokeswoman for the Prime Minister’s Office said Tuesday they have “nothing further to add.”

Moe said he found out Trudeau was visiting Vital Metals in Saskatoon through the media on Monday morning, and that he would have attended the tour if he was invited.

“I got up and read the newspaper and was like, ‘Whoa’,” Moe said.

“When I go to Ottawa, I let the prime minister know I’m going to be in Ottawa. He can do the same.”

Critical minerals were among the issues Trudeau, U.S. President Joe Biden and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador discussed during a summit last week in Mexico.

Moe said that Trudeau “likely would have been informed” about a discussion between Saskatchewan and the U.S. on the same topic.

In December, Moe traveled to Washington, D.C., and met with several members of the Biden administration to discuss North American energy security.

Moe called the lack of co-operation a “missed opportunity” and said that “the perception of a provincial government and federal government not getting along isn’t the way it should be.”

Ottawa has signalled it wants Canada to become a global competitor in the market for rare earth elements used in products such as cell phones, televisions, computers, automobiles, wind turbines and jet aircrafts.

Canada has some of the largest known reserves of such metals in the world, said Natural Resources Canada, many of which are found in Saskatchewan.

China is currently the world’s largest producer of rare earth elements, accounting for almost 60 per cent of global annual production, with most of the remaining 40 per cent shared between the U.S., Myanmar, Australia and Madagascar, the department said.

The premier wasn’t the only one who described being snubbed by Trudeau’s Saskatchewan visit on Monday.

The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations said it was dismayed that Trudeau did not visit Star Blanket Cree Nation, which reported last week that it found more than 2,000 anomalies in the ground near a former residential school site, including what is believed to be a fragment of a child’s jawbone.

Trudeau said he spoke with the First Nation’s chief on Friday to offer support from the federal government as the community seeks “healing and closure.”

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