Sask. MP Ralph Goodale faces boos, questions on carbon tax and canola at municipalities convention

The public safety minister took questions at the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities' annual convention in Saskatoon on Wednesday,

Federal Liberal cabinet minister defended his government's actions on canola, carbon tax at SARM convention

Federal Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale speaks to reporters at the annual Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities convention in Saskatoon. (Bridget Yard/CBC)

The Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities represents many farmers, and many of them aren't on board with the federal carbon tax. 

That was, predictably, one of the issues that was put to Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale when he took questions at SARM's annual convention in Saskatoon Wednesday.

The Regina-Wascana MP was booed by delegates at the convention when he was introduced, which prompted SARM president Ray Orb to call for respect for Goodale. 

The cabinet minister went on to take questions from delegates, including one about the carbon tax exemption for fuel used on farms. He said that exemption for farmers will be a top priority when the plan comes into effect in Saskatchewan April.

Other comments made to Goodale centred on another concern for farmers: canola exports to China, following that country's ban on imports from Richardson International, Canada's largest canola exporter.

The three leading trade priorities for the federal government are canola, pulse crop issues in India — which has imposed stiff tariffs on Canadian pulses — and steel tariffs, the MP said.

There is currently no Canadian ambassador to China after John McCallum was fired from the post in January.

"We have a very effective chargé d'affaires in China in [deputy head of mission at the Embassy of Canada in Beijing Jim] Nickel, and he is is already dealing with this issue at a very, very professional level," said Goodale.

A SARM delegate steps up to the microphone during a bear pit session at the organization's annual convention. (Bridget Yard/CBC)

Minister of International Trade Diversification Jim Carr is expected to meet with SARM delegates Thursday. He will "undoubtedly talk about canola," according to Goodale.

Earlier Wednesday morning, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe addressed the SARM delegates and criticized the federal government for focusing on the internal SNC-Lavalin issue rather than international trade.

Moe also asked earlier this week why Marie-Claude Bibeau, the new minister of agriculture, skipped Saskatchewan during a trip west to tour agriculture sites.

According to Goodale, it was a simple scheduling issue relating to the cabinet shuffle.

"So rather than cancelling those meetings and starting her own all again, she is fulfilling the previous minister's schedule, which had already been prearranged," he said.

"For this particular week, there are at least three federal ministers in Saskatchewan meeting with SARM and travelling to to other places like Prince Albert and Meadow Lake, and other locations around the province to communicate about rural and agricultural issues," said Goodale.


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