May 17, 2018 4:56 pm
Updated: May 17, 2018 4:57 pm

Sask. premier prepares to meet with western counterparts as Trans Mountain deadline approaches

The Evraz steel mill in Regina has been making pipe for the approved, but stalled, Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion.

EVRAZ/Supplied
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As tensions among western Canadian leaders continue over the future of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe is preparing to meet face-to-face with his counterparts in Yellowknife.

Next week, Moe and other premiers from Western Canada will head to the Northwest Territories for the annual western premier’s meeting.

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“We need to continue to have discussions, and they may be tough next week, about the vision of where Canada is going to be in the next number of years and how we are going to continue to export the products that we have,” Moe said.

READ MORE: Saskatchewan to apply to participate in B.C. case to restrict increased bitumen flows

Moe added while he and other premiers have differing views on key issues he is looking forward to being able to sit down and discuss these topics face-to-face.

While the premiers meet, confrontational policy will continue to move through the legislative process.

Alberta passed their oil export permit legislation Wednesday, which is aimed at cutting off B.C. from Alberta oil due to opposition the Horgan government’s opposition to the Trans Mountain pipeline.

Saskatchewan has a similar piece of legislation, with the same overall goal, working its way through the legislative process.

“Our piece of legislation will be in committee sometime next week. We look forward to its passage. And we look forward to some discussions and getting this pipeline built,” Moe explained.

READ MORE: B.C. government threatens to sue Alberta over ‘turn off the taps’ legislation

In that committee meeting, the Opposition Saskatchewan NDP will be able to ask government officials questions regarding potential consequences.

Opposition Leader Ryan Meili said they will be asking about potential impacts on jobs in the oil sector, like production and shipping, in addition to other concerns.

“You also have to think about what’s the next step in a trade war,” Meili said. “Does this result in B.C. changing its mind or does it result in further difficulties for us getting grains to port or other things they could cause us further problems with.”

While Moe is in Yellowknife, Meili said he hopes Moe, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and B.C. Premier John Horgan are able to negotiate some form of agreement on Trans Mountain instead of getting into a trade war.

As all of this uncertainty continues, the clock ticks on the May 31 deadline Kinder Morgan has given Ottawa to assure them the Trans Mountain expansion will proceed.

Provincial Unrest

With Alberta now having the power to restrict oil exports, and the strong likelihood Saskatchewan will soon have the same ability, B.C. is pursuing its own measures.

At the end of April, Horgan, flanked by B.C. Attorney General David Eby, announced they were filing a reference case in their Court of Appeal to see if they have the legal right to issue import permits on parties looking to increase the flow of oil or bitumen into B.C.

If the court rules in favour of B.C., it could effectively shut down the Trans Mountain expansion.

READ MORE: Alberta passes legislation that could let province cut oil to B.C. over Trans Mountain pipeline dispute

One day earlier, Saskatchewan launched its own reference case over the possibility of an imposed federal carbon tax.

When asked for his thoughts on these provincial-federal disputes Moe said the state of affairs is troubling.

“It’s troubling, but I am thankful we do live in a nation where us, as premiers, are able to sit down and have these conversations, but I will say it is troubling,” Moe said.

“We need a vision, a federal vision here in the nation of Canada, we have it provincially I would put forward, of what we are going to look like in five or ten years. We’re going to continue to expand our exports.”

Meanwhile, Meili has been taking note of Moe’s federal focus. Earlier this week, Meili called Moe’s desire to renegotiate equalization the “distraction of the day.”

“Over and over throughout this session we’ve seen federal issues being raised by this government. While that’s important, we have to make sure we’re playing our role on the national stage, there’s also a lot of work that needs to be done right here,” Meili said.

“We’ve seen slumping job numbers, a slumping economy. We have the cuts in housing, cuts in education. There’s all kinds of areas we have real troubles in that aren’t getting the serious hearing I think they should from this government.”

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