Sask. Premier Moe sends Prime Minister Trudeau letter with 'priorities' to include in upcoming throne speech
Trudeau to deliver throne speech Sept. 23
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe is reaching out to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asking that the federal government's upcoming throne speech include "priorities" important to the province.
Moe sent a letter to Trudeau on Monday, eight days ahead of the prime minister's throne speech. The letter features a few suggestions.
Moe also sent his letter to the four other federal party leaders, because the Throne Speech will lead to a confidence vote. The Liberal government currently governs with a minority, which means a failure to receive enough support for the speech would trigger an election.
Last week, sources told CBC's David Cochrane the recent spike in COVID-19 cases across the country meant the immediate focus would remain on the public health crisis and the economic challenges it has created, and not on an environmental agenda.
"We are still living in an emergency," Trudeau told reporters in Toronto last Wednesday. "The last thing that anyone wants is to have to once again shut down our economies and suspend our lives to try and counter a massive second wave."
Moe is once again asking Trudeau to "pause" the carbon tax. Moe made a similar request in a letter to Trudeau in October 2019.
Lawyers representing the Saskatchewan and Ontario governments will argue against the constitutionality of the carbon tax in front of the Supreme Court of Canada on Sept. 22 and 23.
"I request that this inequitable tax be paused until a time at which the Supreme Court has rendered a decision," Moe wrote in the letter.
In May of 2019, Saskatchewan's Court of Appeal ruled in a 3-2 decision that the federal plan was constitutional. In June of that year, Ontario's Court of Appeal ruled 4-1 in favour of the federal government's position.
The Trudeau government has indicated the throne speech will contain an "ambitious green agenda," an item that received Moe's attention.
"While all Canadians would support a commitment to environmental protection and sustainability, there is significant concern that your 'ambitious green agenda' is code for shutting down our energy industry, a major driver of Canada's economy," Moe said in the letter.
Moe said he hoped the speech would contain a commitment to the future of the "sustainable gas and oil sector."
He also called for changes to the Canada Health Transfer and again stated concerns over the fiscal stabilization program and federal equalization formula.
"It is irresponsible for the federal government to continue to ignore these long-standing concerns, while simultaneously putting forward policies that threaten the wealth-generating industries of the very provinces that currently fund these programs," Moe wrote.
Moe said addressing his concerns would also be "significant in addressing the sentiments of western alienation that exists amongst many Saskatchewan residents and western Canadians."
Support for nuclear, irrigation and infrastructure projects requested
On the subject of climate change, Moe asked for support for the research and development of small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs). Four provinces — Saskatchewan, Alberta, Ontario and New Brunswick — have pledged interest in establishing SMRs as an energy source in the future.
Saskatchewan's Environment Minister Dustin Duncan has said SMRs could be part of the province's energy plan in 2030 at the earliest.
Moe also requested "long-term federal funding" to support Saskatchewan's plan to double the irrigable land in the province for $4 billion over 10 years.
In May, the province announced a $7.5 billion spending plan on infrastructure over two years. Moe said in Monday's letter that much of the funding is "intended to leverage the current financial envelopes" offered in the federal government's Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program.
Moe said projects representing $590 million of infrastructure are awaiting federal approval.
with files from CBC's David Cochrane