Moe's hypocritical posturing on carbon tax has residents stuck in the middle: Sask. journalist

"I'm tired of Moe's hypocritical posturing and his party's coal-fired rhetoric."
Following an announcement on details of a federal carbon tax, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe railed against it as a "sham" that would do nothing for the environment and which would hurt the economy. (CBC News)

The federal government announced a plan earlier this week to impose a carbon tax on provinces, like Saskatchewan, that are not instituting some form of carbon pricing.

CBC Saskatchewan gathered opinions on opposite sides of the issue. Read another side here.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau must be tired of making reasoned "hold out the carrot" appeals to the Saskatchewan Party's backward leadership. On Oct. 23, the federal government announced it's imposing a carbon tax on my coal-fired, climate-changing province.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott "The Sequesterer" Moe refuses to embrace the federal plan. In fact, he launched a legal challenge this year with the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal. The judiciary won't rule on the issue until spring 2019. It's like the long wait for season eight of Game of Thrones.

Tight budget squeezed province

Stuck in the middle of this protracted fight are Saskatchewan's residents. It doesn't help that my provincial government issued a belt-tightening 2017 budget.

It was so stringent that it left our restaurant sector hungry due to the industry now being included in the six per cent provincial sales tax. I know of two established restaurants in rural southwest Saskatchewan that have either changed hands or closed their doors.

An early October drive from Wakaw to Melfort on Highway 41 revealed miles and miles of canola and grain crops that remained un-harvested. While Saskatchewan's mining sector has recovered, the oil and gas sector did not rebound as quickly in 2017 as it did in Alberta.

The Royal Bank's 2019 economic forecast is a respectable 2.8 per cent growth for Saskatchewan but that gain is offset by weakness in the labour market.

'Ineffective carbon sequestration'

SaskPower, a Crown corporation, is engaged in a controversial carbon sequestration project, Boundary Dam 3, in southern Saskatchewan. It's both an economic failure and a technology mismatch, according to British economist Gordon Hughes, who prepared a 2017 report for the Global Warming Policy Foundation.

Hughes's report recommended much cheaper and much cleaner natural gas for electricity generation instead of dirty coal and ineffective carbon sequestration.

The $1.5-billion price tag for the retrofitted power plant has caught the attention of Cathy Sproule, the provincial NDP energy critic, who called it a "colossal economic failure." You know the free enterprise Sask. Party is losing ground when a leftie MLA can point to the party's lack of business acumen.

Saskatchewan's decision to go it alone — arrogantly bypassing the federal government's environmental policy wonks — has already proved costly. If only Moe could sequester the $1.5-billion loss to taxpayers.

'Gutless leaders playing politics with our energy policies'

Alberta's flip-flopper Premier Rachel Notley abandoned her support for the carbon plan this summer during her snit over the botched Trans Mountain pipeline project. In early October, Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister defiantly rejected the carbon tax plan for a perfect prairie apocalyptic trifecta. 

To his credit, Trudeau has bent over backwards to accommodate Alberta's oil and gas sector. He even picked up the tab for their $4.5-billion pipeline, which has come to a grinding halt due to a recent federal judicial ruling. Is the pipeline purchase reconciliation to Albertans for Papa Trudeau's disastrous early 1980s National Energy Program?

 I never thought I'd hear myself utter the words, 'I miss the moderating influence of Ralph Klein.'

What annoys this Saskatchewan resident is the vile practice of gutless leaders playing politics with our energy policies. For generations, Western premiers have successfully played the Western Alienation Game with mixed results.

Ralph Klein was the most vocal grandstander of them all. After living in Alberta for seven years, I never thought I'd hear myself utter the words, "I miss the moderating influence of Ralph Klein."

As a Western Canadian, I'm currently alienated from Central Canada, but not for the reasons you would think. It's Ontario Premier Doug Ford's affinity for my incorrigible premier that raises my ire.

Ford's recent election, along with Moe's January 2018 Sask. Party leadership win, has created a perfect storm of absentee leadership that will rage for decades to come.

'A bait-and-switch distraction tactic'

Where is the middle ground on the climate file? Moe's Middle Earth approach to climate change only serves to undermine his credibility with voters.

Why not admit that our homegrown carbon capture method failed and embrace the new carbon tax as a viable compromise? Instead, Saskatchewanians' tax dollars are being squandered on legal challenges.

Sure, Moe can temporarily take Trudeau to task and vilify the federal government, but it's not a sustainable approach to an enduring problem.

Placing blame on the feds and their "job-killing carbon tax" is a bait-and-switch distraction tactic worthy of a pickpocket.

I'm tired of Moe's hypocritical posturing and his party's coal-fired rhetoric.

You had me at climate change, Justin Trudeau. My household will gain $457 in 2019 with your carbon tax rebate cheque, but I'm not in this for the rebate bucks. Like many Saskatchewanians, I want to see real action on the climate file.

This column is part of CBC's Opinion section. For more information about this section, please read this editor's blog and our FAQ

About the Author

Winnipeg-born Patricia Dawn Robertson is an independent Saskatchewan journalist with an axe to grind.


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