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Saskatchewan announces bill for provincial autonomy: ‘We want an honourable partnership’

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan seeks more provincial autonomy in new bill'
Saskatchewan seeks more provincial autonomy in new bill
Canada’s constitution already separates provincial and federal powers, but Saskatchewan wants it written into its own laws with the Saskatchewan First Act – Nov 2, 2022

The Saskatchewan government is set to introduce a bill Tuesday aimed at seeking more provincial autonomy.

Specifically, the Saskatchewan First Act will allow Saskatchewan independence over its natural resources.

Canada’s constitution already separates provincial and federal powers, but Saskatchewan wants it written into its own laws with the Saskatchewan First Act, which was introduced during the 2022 speech from the throne.

“Our government’s goal is to ensure that strong growth continues and that it’s growth that works for everyone,” Premier Scott Moe said.

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“That means reinvesting in health, education and affordability measures, paying down debt, and defending our economic autonomy so Saskatchewan continues to grow and create jobs.”

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“The Saskatchewan First Act will clarify and defend Saskatchewan’s constitutional right to control our natural resources and our economic future.”

The speech said that federal climate policies like the carbon tax and the proposed oil and gas emissions gap are jeopardizing investment potential in Saskatchewan. The Saskatchewan First Act is intended to reassert the province’s ability to develop its resources without federal intrusion.

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan premier announces the Saskatchewan First Act'
Saskatchewan premier announces the Saskatchewan First Act

Opposition leader Carla Beck says she has heard government frustration from Saskatchewan residents.

“The Premier needs to be able to, not only to spout rhetoric, but actually deliver results for people in this province.”

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“The throne speech offered no new measures to combat the generational affordability crisis or the province’s broken health-care system, despite soaring windfall revenues. The majority of the measures announced in the speech are recycled announcements. New measures are based on Scott Moe’s white paper — a document that has been widely dismissed and mocked by economists and experts,” Beck said.

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Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Bronwyn Eyre formally introduced the bill for the Saskatchewan First Act in Regina on Nov. 1.

“The economic success that Saskatchewan has achieved has been despite federal policies that have done real economic harm and risk doing much more. This bill will create the framework to define, address and quantify economic harm.”

“We are asserting our exclusive constitutional jurisdiction and numerating our core provincial powers and referring questions for economic assessment to an independent economic tribunal,” said Eyre. “We believe this will have real, practical and legal effect and weight in the future. Assessing economic harm, putting a dollar amount on it, will help identify evidence for potential future cases.”

The Saskatchewan government explains that although they already hold exclusive authority over the province’s resources, reasserting their control will help them establish a more honourable partnership with the federal government.

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“You cannot impose things on provinces who have exclusive jurisdiction in the area and not show them the data you are using to impose these things on,” Eyre said in reference to policies such as carbon tax rebates and the methane industry.

“We want an honourable partnership. This isn’t about fed bashing for kicks. This is about quantifying, assessing and defining economic harm.”

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Moe made a commitment that his government would “respect and follow all the laws of the land” as they progressed with the bill.

— with files from Global News’ Brody Langager

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