October was a month of frustration in the Western portion of Canada, something Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe has experienced first hand. Premier Scott Moe does not seem ready to give up on the Prime Minister’s office. The Saskatchewan Premier has given what seems like the last chance for the Liberal Party to make changes that would be advantageous not just for the province of Saskatchewan, but the western provinces as a whole. On October 23rd Scott Moe sent a letter to Prime Minister Trudeau. In this letter he quotes Prime Minister Trudeau’s comment in a statement to the western provinces, “I’ve heard your frustration. I want to be there to support you.” To which he outlined just how the Prime Minister could put action to his words. First, he asks that the federal carbon tax be cancelled, second, he asks that a new and fair equalization plan be put in place for Alberta and Saskatchewan, and lastly, he requests that efforts be made to find a way to get western products to market, particularly stating pipelines. Demands that are not seen as unreasonable by the majority of westerners. No reply was given to these demands by the Prime Minister’s office, despite Moe’s claims, “We have reached out many many many times.” Brook Simpson of the Prime Minister’s office responded with, “No date set yet.” She claims that the Prime Minister has been calling mayors, premiers, and Indigenous leaders to discuss making life affordable, building a “stronger middle class”, and “working collaboratively toward a stronger country”. These discussion points, don’t really cover anything in regards to Moe’s letters.
On October 30, 2019 Moe wrote a follow up letter to the Prime Minister, after growing tired of receiving no date for a meeting with Prime Minister Trudeau as promised. The follow up letter covered the same requests as the first letter, only in more detail. He did add that he would like the carbon tax to be paused until federal and provincial governments can agree on terms. He also continued his request for an in-person meeting with Prime Minister Trudeau.
Premier Moe brings up the fact that Encana, an energy company, pulled out of Alberta. One could also direct attention to Husky layoffs, Norway’s largest pension fund pulling out of Alberta oilsands, and many other hits the western provinces have taken. These economy-crushing events add fuel to the fire that Moe is offering to extinguish with a “new deal” for the West. Part of this “new deal” would be a reform of the equalization formula, which has Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland and Labrador paying money instead of receiving, despite economic struggles. He also requests a “one-year pause” on the carbon tax so that Saskatchewan and the Federal government can review and alter Saskatchewan’s “carbon emissions plans.” Moe claims that Saskatchewan’s plans will assist the federal government in reaching their goals without the use of a carbon tax, which has hit Canadians, especially farmers, hard.
Another request that Moe has presented is a firm plan of action on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion projects. Those in the West feel that a pipeline will allow their economies to begin a rebound.
Saskatchewan NDP leader Ryan Meili has chosen not to back Moe in these requests. Instead he attacks Moe claiming that his letter is simply “convenient”, Meili accuses Moe of using it as a distraction from other problems he believes the Sask Party has caused. He furthers his accusations by stating that this is Moe’s way of taking on a government he did not want elected. Meili does not think that Moe’s letters will accomplish anything, which is a sentiment most Westerners would agree with. The problem then becomes, why is Meili not bringing up a solution, instead of just crushing the efforts of the Sask Party? He has suggested going back to the drawing board to make up a “made-in-Saskatchewan plan”, but does not offer any real solutions, or even a recommendation on what this “plan” could be.
Saskatchewan residents would prefer a united front between Saskatchewan politicians of all levels at this point. While Moe attempts to get Prime Minister Trudeau to look at a “new deal”, he should have the opposition party helping in this matter. Meanwhile Saskatchewan residents have joined Alberta, British Columbia, and parts of Manitoba in demanding separation. What one would think would be an eye-opener to the Liberal Party, but has instead been met with mockery, and disdain from the Liberal Party and its fellow Eastern supporters. And so, the question still remains, when will Trudeau accept a meeting with western Premiers to discuss referendums on Equalization and electoral reform?