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Scott Moe calls motion to stop fossil fuel advertisements with City of Regina ‘absurd’

Sask. Premier Scott Moe is calling Regina’s executive committee's decision to support a motion that would restrict energy companies from sponsoring or advertising within the city absurd. Mark Taylor / The Canadian Press

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe is not happy with Regina’s executive committee’s decision to support a motion that would restrict energy companies from sponsoring or advertising with the City of Regina.

On Wednesday, the committee voted 7-4 in favour of bringing forward changes that would put fossil fuels in the same light as tobacco, pot and weapons.

Moe called the decision “absurd.”

Read more: UN-backed report suggests fossil fuel production must drop 6% a year to meet climate goals

“This motion is a hypocritical attack on the hardworking workers and employers that fuel Saskatchewan’s economy and fund important community initiatives through voluntary sponsorships,” Moe said in an emailed statement following the executive committee meeting on Wednesday.

“Should this motion pass Regina city council next week, our government will seriously consider the future of sponsorships to the City of Regina from provincial energy companies like SaskEnergy and SaskPower.”

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Daniel LeBlanc, Ward 6 councillor, brought forward the motion and said he is sticking to the platform on which he ran — sustainability and moving away from fossil fuels.

Given the city’s commitment to be net neutral carbon wise by 2050 and its commitment to phasing off fossil fuel, he said it was important for the city to treat fossil fuel similar to things like tobacco.

Read more: Aid for Canada’s energy sector heavily weighted towards fossil fuels in COVID-19 response

“I think fossil fuels are equally caught with them,” LeBlanc said.

“It felt like it was an opportunity for us to sort of put our money where our mouth is and was during the campaign period, which is to live our values and say we’re not willing to implicitly or by assumption, endorse fossil fuel companies.

“There is a financial cost to that, no doubt. But I think that’s the cost of standing up for what you believe in.”

Moe also pointed to the fact that the City of Regina receives about $29 million a year from the municipal surcharge on SaskPower bills and $4.3 million from the municipal surcharge on SaskEnergy bills.

“If these Regina city councillors have such a strong aversion to accepting money from energy companies, I assume they will no longer want to receive these funds, which could instead be distributed to other Saskatchewan municipalities,” Moe said.

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Read more: Canada to still rely on fossil fuels in 2050, but at a smaller level, report says

LeBlanc responded by saying he doesn’t anticipate the City of Regina not taking the nearly $34 million in municipal surcharges, and that he would expect the money to be available through other forms of energy-related revenue, fossil fuel or not.

“It could come from one pot in these energy corporations, Crown corporations or it could come from another,” LeBlanc said.

“I don’t think we need to get caught up in the weeds regarding what specific bank account owned by the province of Saskatchewan that money flows from.”

Mayor Sandra Masters, along with councillors John Findura, Lori Bresciani and Terina Shaw, voted against the motion.

A final decision will be made in an upcoming council meeting scheduled for next Wednesday.

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