REGINA — Saskatchewan’s premier says the federal throne speech signals Ottawa intends to turn away from Western Canada’s energy industry at a time when people are looking for more support.
Scott Moe and other premiers had also asked Ottawa to increase funding for health care ahead of Wednesday’s speech delivered by Governor General Julie Payette.
Moe said the address failed to mention the request for a $28-billion boost in health care funding. He noted, however, that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has indicated he’s willing to negotiate.
“We’re in the middle of a global pandemic,” Moe said Wednesday.
“It only stands to reason that this is the time for the federal government to have a very serious discussion and very quick discussion about elevating their share of our health-care transfer.”
Moe said the energy industry and farmers don’t appear to be priorities for the Liberals.
He said he thinks mention of the energy industry having a “net zero future” means Ottawa is planning to pull out of sectors such as oil and gas.
“It wasn’t in there in support of the energy industry continuing as one of the most sustainable energy industries in the world,” Moe said. “Those would have been words that would have been supportive of Saskatchewan energy industry workers.”
Ian Cameron, a spokesman for the Office of the Minister of Natural Resources, said the people who work in Canada’s natural resource sectors, including those in oil and gas, have long driven economic growth.
He said now they will drive Canada’s recovery.
“With their hard work and ingenuity, Canada will address the unexpected challenge and unprecedented opportunity of this moment. In fact, they’ve already started,” Cameron said in an email from Ottawa.
“Major players such as Cenovus, MEG Energy, and CNRL, have all committed to Net-Zero goals already – they recognize that Net-zero is not a barrier to investment, but a strategic plan for competitiveness.”
Moe said he remains a frustrated federalist, despite financial support the province has received from Ottawa to respond to the COVID-19 crisis.
Some of that division was on display in the Supreme Court of Canada over the past two days, as the court listened to arguments from provinces, including Saskatchewan, over its opposition to a federally-imposed carbon price on consumers.
In an earlier interview Wednesday, Moe called discussions with the federal government over how it has supported provinces during the pandemic as “fruitful.”
However, he criticized Trudeau’s energy policies as picking economic “winners and losers.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept.23, 2020.
Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press