Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said he is looking at ways to expand provincial autonomy after meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa on Tuesday morning.
“We’re going to look at opportunities to expand our provincial autonomy. That includes expanding our presence around the world in those areas where we are exporting our agri-food products, our energy products,” Moe said.
The premier was light on details about what other measures his government might pursue. He said those details would be coming in the next couple of days.
Moe added that he was disappointed that Trudeau did not commit to his “new deal with Canada.”
The day after the federal election, Moe sent a letter requesting that Trudeau cancel the carbon tax, commit to renegotiating equalization and have a strategy to help get Saskatchewan products to market in addition to building the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
Moe later softened his stance on the carbon tax demand in a second letter, changing his request to a one-year pause of the tax in Saskatchewan. The goal was to allow time for the Supreme Court of Canada to hear Saskatchewan’s challenges to the emission backstop and talk about ways to further reduce emissions with Ottawa.
“Disappointingly, after this meeting here today, what I do see is that we’re going to see more of the same from this prime minister,” Moe said.
Saskatchewan Opposition Leader Ryan Meili said he will need to look further into the details of what Moe has in mind to expand provincial autonomy once those are released, but he’s not without worry about Moe’s statements Tuesday morning.
“I’m quite concerned about the approach of trying to push Canada away; trying to go it on our own in ways that can be far more expensive for us,” Meili said.
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On Moe’s description of the meeting being disappointing, Meili took aim at the premier’s “all-or-nothing approach” to these Saskatchewan issues.
“There are serious concerns in Western Canada. There are absolutely reasons for people to be frustrated, but the approach, this all or nothing ultimatum approach that Mr. Moe is taking, has advanced our cause in no way. It’s actually making it more difficult for Saskatchewan people to be successful,” Meili said.
On Twitter, Trudeau said he is committed to “fighting climate change, creating jobs, and making life more affordable for people in Saskatchewan and across Canada.”
When asked in Ottawa if this rhetoric is helping to stoke conversations of western separation, Moe said: “Canadians can talk about whatever they want to talk about.”
Canada is in a divisive state, according to Moe. He pointed to the Liberals losing all their seats in Saskatchewan and Alberta as evidence, plus the resurgence of the Bloc Québécois.
“It’s incumbent on us as premiers, it’s incumbent on the prime minister of this nation, to step forward and say what he is going to do to address those Canadians, many of them in Saskatchewan right now, that are feeling disaffected with this administration,” Moe said.
While Moe’s autonomy plan is currently light on public details, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney made a similar announcement over the weekend in Red Deer, Alta.
Kenney said the “Fair Deal Panel” he aims to create will include consulting Albertans on developing a formalized provincial constitution, withdrawing from the Canada Pension Plan in favour of creating a provincial one and creating a provincial revenue agency.