Premier Scott Moe claims provincial autonomy for Saskatchewan. at Maple Creek Town Hall

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Saskatchewan must increase its self-reliance to advance its economic interests, Premier Scott Moe said Friday at a Maple Creek town hall.

The province’s economy should not suffer from federal environmental and energy policies, Moe told a crowd of about 50 people.

“We’re going to make sure that we’re going to exercise all of our provincial jurisdiction within the limits of the Canadian Constitution, natural resources and other matters,” he said, adding that Saskatchewan could be a “powerhouse.”

Moe and Cypress Hills MLA Doug Steele fielded questions from the crowd in the southwestern Saskatchewan town of Maple Creek on a variety of topics including health care, education and the economy.

Moe also said an industry-specific carbon pricing discussion paper released by the federal Liberal government earlier this week was “problematic.”

Ottawa is proposing an industry-specific cap-and-trade system or a modified carbon pricing system to cap emissions from the oil and gas sector, with the goal of reducing them by nearly 40% by the end of this decade.

Moe disputed this and criticized the federal government’s national goal of reducing fertilizer emissions by 30% below 2020 levels by 2030.

“And they come on top of a number of policies that have been problematic from the start as to how we ultimately generate wealth,” the prime minister said.

The Premier also discussed provincial autonomy at a July 7 town hall meeting in Davidson with Arm River MLA Dana Skoropad. This event, like Maple Creek Town Hall on Friday, was open to everyone and there was no charge to attend, according to the Skoropad office.

“We have a duty as the government of Saskatchewan to enhance and foster every opportunity to achieve what we can achieve in this province,” Moe told Davidson.

But when “other levels of government put in place obstacles or barriers for us to achieve that provincial success, that community success, we’re going to have to do what we can to stop that,” he said. .

Self-Reliance Closed Meetings

This month, Moe asked Lyle Stewart, a member of his party from Saskatchewan, and Allan Kerpan, a Saskatchewan elder. Party MP and Reform MP who was recently involved in the Wexit movement — to co-host closed-door meetings on increasing Saskatchewan self-reliance.

Kerpan said he and Moe met over the past few months and were asked “to try to gauge the opinions and feelings of the people who live in our province.”

Tom McIntosh, a professor of politics and international studies at the University of Regina, said he’s not sure what public engagement behind closed doors is supposed to accomplish.

“If you only invite people who already agree with you, you don’t really have a conversation or a debate about the merits of the issue,” McIntosh said.

“Nor do I see that the public would view anything that comes out of some sort of private, closed-door session as terribly legitimate.”

Tom McIntosh is a professor of politics and international studies at the University of Regina. (Richard Agecoutay/CBC)

In an interview earlier this month, Kerpan raised concerns about energy and environmental policies, particularly pipeline projects.

He also raised issues with two federal laws passed in 2019 – Bill C-48, which prohibits tankers carrying more than 12,500 metric tonnes of oil from docking along the north coast of British Columbia, and the Impact Assessment Act, formerly known as Bill C-69, which allows the federal government to consider the effects of new resource projects on issues like climate change.

Kerpan said each province should have “control over its natural resources, which includes getting them to market.”

Moe also raised each of the issues mentioned by Kerpan. He repeatedly said that he was not interested in an independent Saskatchewan, but rather wanted Saskatchewan to become a “nation within a nation”.

McIntosh said it’s unclear how much additional autonomy Saskatchewan needs.

“Canada is, in fact, one of the most decentralized federations in the world. Our Canadian provinces have far more autonomy and authority than the subunits of almost any federal state you can name,” said he declared.

McIntosh pointed out that while the province may not like Ottawa’s carbon tax, the The Supreme Court ruled it was constitutional despite legal challenges from Saskatchewan, Alberta and Ontario.

Provinces can’t “choose which laws apply to us and which laws don’t,” McIntosh said. “That’s not how a federation works.”

‘Channeling our interior of Quebec’

Speaking at a North Saskatoon Business Association luncheon titled “Stand Up for Saskatchewan” on Thursday, Saskatchewan Justice Minister Bronwyn Eyre said federal policies are thwarting Saskatchewan’s economic potential and has called the federal government “anti-energy”.

“We have to market ourselves as a kind of ‘nation state’…for that reason,” said Eyre, who was previously energy and resources minister.

Saskatchewan Justice Minister Bronwyn Eyre, in a 2018 file photo, says federal policies are thwarting Saskatchewan’s economic potential. (Radio Canada)

She highlighted the need to export Saskatchewan’s natural resources overseas.

A “wide range of people” showed up at a meeting she hosted in her riding a few weeks ago to discuss self-rule, Eyre said, including former Saskatchewan premier Grant Devine , farmers, ranchers, businessmen and a “well-known liberal lobbyist”. “

“What really came out of the meeting…is that we should channel our inner Quebec,” Eyre said, applauding that province for protecting its provincial constitutional jurisdiction.

CBC News asked Eyre if the government would be willing to take legal action to increase autonomy, and what other steps it might take, but the minister did not give a straight answer.

Moe said Friday that legal action was not necessary at this time, but warned that “if the federal government makes a mandatory 30% reduction in fertilizers, it’s going to be problematic.”

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