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Sask. premier releases paper on economic impact federal policies

Click to play video: 'Western discontent with Ottawa sparks questions of potential constitutional crisis'
Western discontent with Ottawa sparks questions of potential constitutional crisis
WATCH ABOVE: Tensions are rising between the provinces and Ottawa, with Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe and new Alberta Premier Danielle Smith pushing to assert independence from the federal government. As Heather Yourex-West reports, it's raising questions of whether a constitutional crisis is coming – Oct 11, 2022

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said his government is taking steps to “protect Saskatchewan’s families, businesses and jobs from destructive federal policies.”

Moe said analysis from his Ministry of Finance says nine different climate change policies could cost the province’s economy $111 billion by 2035.

The paper lists each climate change policy and the cumulative cost up until 2035:

  • Federal carbon tax – $24.7 billion
  • Oil and gas methane mandate – $6.3 billion
  • Oil and gas emissions cap mandate – $2.6 billion
  • Fertilizer use mandate – $19.3 billion
  • Clean fuel regulations – $34.9 billion
  • Zero emission vehicle mandate – $10.3 billion
  • Federal Output Based Pricing System – $12.5 billion
  • Agriculture methane initiatives – $0.5 billion
  • Landfill methane mandate – $0.2 billion

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The policy paper, called “Drawing the Line: Defending Saskatchewan’s Economic Autonomy,” considers policy options to the “federal government’s intrusions.”

“The situation has been exacerbated in recent years by the current federal government’s continued interference in the province’s jurisdiction over natural resources under the guise of federal environmental regulation,” Moe said.

“It’s time to defend and assert Saskatchewan’s economic autonomy by ‘drawing the line:’ taking a number of steps including the introduction of provincial legislation to clarify and protect Saskatchewan’s constitutional rights.”

The paper outlines how the total costs from the federal policies will be divided in the province by 2035, noting that households will pay $24.5 billion, the agriculture sector will pay $32.6 billion, the transportation sector will pay $19.8 billion, and the upstream oil and gas sector will pay $15.5 billion.

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Scott Moe’s policy paper outlines alleged economic impacts of federal policies

 

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“This cannot continue,” Moe said. “We have so much potential in Saskatchewan to grow and prosper.  A strong Saskatchewan means a strong Canada, but we cannot allow continued federal intrusion into our exclusive constitutional right to develop our natural resources and grow our economy. We will defend and protect Saskatchewan jobs and our economic future.”

Some of the steps listed in the paper for the province to take include:

  • Provincial legislation to clarify and protect constitutional rights belonging to the province;
  • Pursue greater autonomy over immigration policy to ensure Saskatchewan has the people it needs;
  • Better recognize Saskatchewan industry contributions to sustainable growth (the province gives an example of a carbon credit for natural resource industries);
  • Prepare to take legal actions, legislative or otherwise, to maintain control of electricity, fertilizer emission/use targets and oil and gas emissions/production; and
  • Explore greater autonomy in tax collection.

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Moe said he would rather incentivize businesses than slap penalties on them.

“We would say that there’s a much better way for us to address sustainably produced products, and ultimately use the carrot as opposed to a stick.”

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He added that more legislation is on the way to reaffirm provincial jurisdictions.

“You will quite likely see, I’m almost certain, some legislation come this fall to really reassert Saskatchewan’s place, and how this province operates under the constitution, all the while respecting the constitution.”

Moe said a voluntary carbon credit system will be coming out to help businesses in the agriculture, energy and mining industries.

“That would be an example of where we’re moving to attract investment, but to provide that regulatory certainty to companies that are operating here and provide them the opportunity to monetize some of the investments that they’ve made.”

He noted that this wasn’t about starting a fight with the federal government.

“This isn’t about what the federal government is doing, it isn’t about Saskatchewan picking fights with the federal government.”

NDP health critic Vicki Mowat said this announcement was a distraction from a major issue in Saskatchewan.

“I think what we’re really seeing here today is an attempt to distract from several of the issues that are being brought forward by the people of this province, including those very serious issues in health care,” Mowat said.

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She said this shows a difference in what the provincial government is prioritizing compared with what the opposition is prioritizing.

“Instead of taking responsibility for the health care that they have been providing for the past 15 years in this province, they are pointing fingers elsewhere.”

“There is no willingness to take accountability for their own actions in these spheres,” Mowat added.

She said the province is struggling, noting record inflation, a lack in job growth and house affordability.

Click to play video: 'Sask. premier releases paper on economic impact federal policies'
Sask. premier releases paper on economic impact federal policies

Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy Prof. Ken Coates said this shows that there’s reason to be concerned about Canada maintaining a common course, adding that different governments are looking in different directions.

“The country is pulling in different directions, it’s like sort of a solar system that goes around in nice centrifugal forces that go on and held together very nicely, and all of a sudden it starts to fall apart. All the pieces start flying away,” Coates said.

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“It’s not a very large jump from a situation where Saskatchewan says we’re paying too much for being a part of the confederation, the government’s policies are disproportionately falling on the people of Saskatchewan, to then realize well maybe equalization payments are at risk, and maybe the social compact we had that actually held us together for the last 60-70 years is actually getting weaker all the time.”

Coates said he doesn’t see a long-form strategy from the Sask Party other than to resist Ottawa.

“This is a declaration that Saskatchewan is not going to take the current trajectory of federal policies and just accept them willy-nilly.”

He added there could easily be a transition in the future, noting that the federal government hasn’t paid much attention to the West.

“I think, quite frankly, the federal government brought this upon itself. It has ignored Western Canada quite consistently for the better part of a decade, as the election results show.”

He says Canada is disconnected, and none of the three major political parties have a real shared vision for where the country is going.

“You need people to have a bit of a sense that this is a country worth having, a country worth maintaining. And that, unfortunately, we don’t see right now in any of the three political parties.”

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In response, the federal ministers Wilkinson and Guilbeault say, “Our government is focused on growing the economy, making life more affordable, and building a strong, healthy future for our kids and grandkids. We’re ready to keep working with every single province and territory to make that happen.”

This Friday, families in Saskatchewan will receive their next Climate Action Incentive payment- worth $275.25 for a family of four- from the federal pollution pricing system.

Federal ministers add, “scrapping a program which puts money directly into people’s pockets does not make life better for Saskatchewanians. Nor does spending taxpayer dollars to ask the Supreme Court to revisit a decision it made only last year.”

 

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