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Sask. NDP slams Moe’s messaging on border blockades as premier clarifies position

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan NDP slams Premier Scott Moe’s messaging on blockades'
Saskatchewan NDP slams Premier Scott Moe’s messaging on blockades
WATCH: Premier Scott Moe has come under fire for comments he made Wednesday night about ongoing border blockades – Feb 10, 2022

Saskatchewan Trade and Export Development Critic Aleana Young didn’t pull any punches when responding to comments made by Premier Scott Moe Wednesday night on border blockades.

“Our premier is egging on disruption and uncertainty,” Young said in a Thursday morning press conference, of Moe’s comments on CBC’s Power & Politics.

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“Here in Saskatchewan, we are an exporting province. More than half of our exports go to the United States. How hard is it to stand up to those who are hurting small businesses, the economy of our neighbors and potentially the economy of Saskatchewan?”

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The premier, meanwhile, issued a statement Thursday expressing that he believes protests need to be “done within the law.”

When asked for his opinion on whether anti-vaccine mandate protestors should be employing border blockades as a tactic, Moe said “it certainly is going to get everyone’s attention when they do.”

“It isn’t up to me to judge, ultimately, whether they should or not. There’s obviously laws in place that they may be liable for and I understand that the federal government is looking at procuring some RCMP and police resources to make a move with respect to this.”

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Young suggested Moe’s comments were hypocritical, alluding to his messaging around blockades that halted pipeline production and railway transportation in support of Wet’suwet’en protestors in 2020.

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“He said almost two years ago today that Canadians feel the very real impacts of blockades and that they’re running out of patience and he demanded an end to those,” she said.

In a tweet Feb. 15, 2020, Moe insisted the federal government act on the pipeline blockade, saying “We need action now! When illegal blockades in some provinces directly affect other provinces – it becomes a federal issue.”

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Premier Moe issued the following statement Thursday morning following his appearance Wednesday night:

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“Our government supports everyone’s right to peaceful protest, but not unlawful activity. As I have stated publicly on several occasions, including prior to the trucker convoys in Saskatchewan, everyone has this right but it needs to be done within the law. If that is not the case, in this or any other demonstration, I would expect the law to be enforced and upheld.”

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“The right to peaceful protest should not be impeding others’ right to access public transportation routes and border crossings. I would call on all the protesters to continue to advance their valid concerns about the federal vaccine mandates without engaging in unlawful activity and obstructing the rights of their fellow Canadians.”

“As many Canadians have requested, it is past time for the federal government to release a plan detailing a return to normal.”

The premier’s office noted the statement was not a direct response to Young’s Thursday morning comments.

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University of Regina Economics Associate Professor Jason Childs said that while the protests in Coutts, Alta., and Windsor, Ont., are unlikely to harm Saskatchewan exports in the short run, their ripple effects could eventually be felt here if the blockades continue.

“We are still getting a good chunk of our manufacture products through that Ontario corridor. Where I see a challenge, particularly with the Ontario blockade, is getting imported product into Canada and then distributed nationally from there,” Childs said.

“But a lot of our imports aren’t going to come from Ontario, particularly finished consumer goods, they’re going to come in from B.C. and from that Asian side and then get distributed that way.”

Childs added that the blockades do highlight vulnerabilities in Canada’s supply chain.

“We’re seeing manufacturing get idled already. Is it going to change whether or not Ford or Toyota or anybody else is going to want to invest in Canada going forward? I don’t think so, not yet, but we’ll see what happens,” he said.

“It’s exposed chokepoints in our infrastructure. It made it very, very clear that we economically are very dependent on a relatively small number of pieces on infrastructure. We are vulnerable. We are exposed.”

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