Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said he will be paying close attention to decisions and directions coming from the new federal cabinet.
While the new cabinet has no representation from the province following the Conservatives sweeping all 14 seats in the province, Moe said that doesn’t matter much to him.
“I’ve always said it’s not about the people that are in the cabinet, it’s about the decisions that the cabinet makes,” Moe said.
“We have obviously called for a new direction in those decisions, over the course of the last few weeks and for a number of months now. Listen, we’ve had representation from this province in cabinet over the last four years and he had some very obvious discrepancies.”
The premier has made a number of requests to the federal government. This includes his “new deal with Canada” letter that includes calls to renegotiate equalization, cancel or put a one year pause on the federal carbon price, and ensure continued new resource infrastructure beyond TMX.
Plus, the Saskatchewan government will see the federal government in the Supreme Court of Canada on March 17 and 18 to challenge the federal backstop on carbon. Saskatchewan lost their carbon tax appeal court challenge earlier this year.
Currently, the provincial government is advocating that the federal government work to resolve the strike involving CN Rail workers. Moe said this is the second biggest harvest the province has seen, and it needs to get to market.
While relations between Saskatchewan and Ottawa have been tense since 2015, Moe named a handful of cabinet members he is looking forward to working with, specifically new Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Feeland.
Moe said he developed a positive working relationship with Freeland in her former role, foreign affairs minister, during the USMCA, or new-NAFTA, negotiations alongside the other premiers.
“I think that was a display of how we can achieve success when we work together. So I’d like to congratulate, the deputy prime minister,” Moe said.
Freeland will also serve as minister of intergovernmental affairs, so she will be focused on relations with the provinces. Moe said he sees this as a signal from Trudeau.
Another apparent olive branch extended by Ottawa to the Prairie provinces is the appointment of former international trade and natural resource minister Jim Carr as special representative for the Prairies.
Moe said he still needs to learn more about what exactly this new role for Carr entails, but will be engaging with him at the appropriate levels, in addition to the rest of the cabinet ministers.
The premier also wished Carr well as he undergoes cancer treatments.
Saskatchewan NDP Leader Ryan Meili is also interested to see what Carr’s new position means for inter-governmental relations.
“It’s an unusual thing that this is required and we’ll see what it looks like. That’s why we’ll continue to be engaging as much as we can to the prime minister, folks around the cabinet table,” Meili said.
On files where the Saskatchewan government has butted heads with Ottawa, like environment and infrastructure, Moe said they will continue to advocate for internal interests. B.C. MP Jonathan Wilkinson is the new environment minister and Catherine McKenna has been moved to infrastructure.