I know, I know, I've been quiet for awhile.
Well, we'll skip any excuses or justifications of the silence or promises that we're back to regular posting, and instead just launch right into the post.
I suppose I've been giving Scott Moe the benefit of the doubt, as I'm sure many people in Saskatchewan have given his surprising defeat of Alanna Koch to win the Saskatchewan Party Leadership.
While there was certainly reasons to stop that benefit during the leadership campaign, the last few weeks have definitely finalized that no doubting benefit should be afford to Premier Moe.
With Manitoba having now signed on to the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change (PCFCGCC...wow, that is really uncatchy. Let's just call it "The Framework" for now), Saskatchewan is now the only hold out province on the deal.
With a reported deadline of February 28th, Saskatchewan is quickly running out of time to sign onto the deal and be eligible for federal funding under The Framework.
But Moe, much like his predecessor, has buried his heels in on fighting the feds on the issue of "the carbon tax". Moe famously during the leadership campaign quoted Pierre Elliott Trudeau's "Just Watch Me" remark with regards as to how far he'd go to fight the feds on this issue. As such, Moe's opposition to signing the province onto The Framework is hardly surprising.
What is new, however, is Moe and Minister Dustin Duncan insisting that Saskatchewan is still entitled to the $62 million dollars the province could qualify for under The Framework.
That sounds like a bratty child insisting they should still get their allowance, even though they haven't done any of their chores.
To make matters worse, Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna has reminded the nation that in order to receiving funding from The Framework, provinces only need to sign onto the deal. Let me repeat that: In order to qualify for Saskatchewan's $62 million dollar share, Moe's Government only has to say they agree with The Framework.
They don't need to have taken any concrete action as of yet (which, spoiler, the Saskatchewan Party hasn't) nor do they need to bind themselves to the Federal course of action. Which is to say: after they agree, the Government of Saskatchewan sets the policies, as opposed to a top-down order which could come from the Federal Government and would likely be unreflective of the needs and concerns of the province.
Much like Wall, Moe has set a collision course with the federal government that will likely result in yet another one of the Saskatchewan Party's famous needless court challenges...Court challenges, by the way, that the taxpayers of Saskatchewan foot the bill for.
The fact of the matter is this is a needless conflict.
Moe, like Wall before him, could create a made in Saskatchewan plan that respects agricultural concerns and the concerns of Saskatchewan residents, while also meeting the bare minimum the federal government wants.
And that's worth repeating: Moe is literally refusing to do the bare minimum, and in doing so, is leading to a path that is going to cost Saskatchewan not just actual dollars, but also reinforce the negative stereotype that Saskatchewan is like the "Mississippi of the North". (Hint: Being Mississippi is not a good thing.)
If Moe was serious about ensuring that Saskatchewan received its fair share from The Framework, they could at least commit to the bare minimum. And as many have pointed out in the past, any form of carbon pricing could be effectively nullified as a tax increase by simply refunding the bulk if not all of the monies collected.
Moe, and his government, are continuing a fundamental dereliction of duty by refusing to do more than just have a shouting match with the federal government on this issue.
There could be concrete steps taken, that granted might not do much to actually fight climate change, but would at least give Moe and his government access to the federal funds simply by doing the bare minimum of what they needed to.
The fact that this government can't be bothered to do even the tiniest amount of work on this file suggests that the matter is either:
- A.) Not an issue they take seriously (and I mean, we know we have climate change deniers like Brownyn Eyre in cabinet)
- B.) The fight with the feds is pure political theatre to provide cover for when they have to enforce a carbon tax, and they can pin the blame on the feds while pocketing the money to try and pay down their deficits
Moe, like Wall, seems ready to put on a good political show (even wasting money to do so)in order to make sure that when (not if, WHEN) the Carbon Tax comes that the Feds take the blame for it. Unfortunately, given the casual look at the #SKPoli hashtag and comments sections in the province, it would seem Moe is likely to get away with this tactic.
Regardless of whether the Carbon Tax is the best approach to fighting climate change (there are argument for and against), we cannot deny that climate change is impacting our province and it does indeed exist. Just drive the #16 and look at the expansion of the Quill Lakes over the past seven years, and the need for water mitigation in the area, to see what I mean.
We cannot afford to sit back and do nothing on this issue. It's here, and it's already starting to impact us. To do nothing is bad, but to feign doing nothing to score political points is even worse.
To change topics for just the briefest of moments, I'd like to take one moment to discuss the NDP Leadership race which will come to a close this weekend.
After a great amount of soul searching, and flip flopping, I was finally able to make up my mind and mark my ballot last week. As is my custom, I will be keeping my decision mostly to myself (exceptions are real life friends and the like).
As such, I'd instead like to take this moment to encourage those who have yet to mark their ballots (who are voting in advance of convention) to give the matter serious thought. It's an exciting time to be a New Democrat in Saskatchewan; even if we are a few years away from the next election. There's a renewed energy in our party, and an added frustration from even the most casual political observer that the SK Party has lost their way.
We must ensure that we do not waste this opportunity in front of us, and we must ensure that we put ourselves on the strongest footing possible for the election to come. Regardless of who wins this weekend, I believe the party will do so, and we will draw together and make sure that this government is held account for their actions, and the actions of the previous government as well.
We have the means, we have the opportunity, and we all need to come together to see it through in the years ahead.