Before the Saskatchewan Conservatives, federal Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre promised better relations with western Canada if he became the next premier.
Poilievre, speaking at the Saskatchewan Party convention in Regina, praised Premier Scott Moe and his government for fighting Ottawa’s carbon pricing program and called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to resign.
“When I become premier, the days of Ottawa telling western Canada to shut up and pay up will be over once and for all,” he said.
Poilievre took aim at Gudie Hutchings, the federal Minister of Rural Economic Development, who told CTV last week that residents of the Western and Prairies provinces should vote more Liberal if they want to have discussions about potential tax breaks.
Justin Trudeau announced last week that the tax would be waived for three years on home heating oil to respond to the rising cost of living. This decision should greatly help residents of the Atlantic provinces, where it is the main source of heating for homes.
Mr. Poilievre and premiers across the country said the tax holiday was unfair to the rest of Canada.
Scott Moe said the provincial natural gas company, SaskEnergy, will not remit the carbon tax to Ottawa starting Jan. 1 unless the federal government offers a waiver. That decision would violate federal law.
“We know that the solution, if you don’t want a carbon tax, is not to elect more liberals, but to elect more sensible conservatives,” Poilievre said Saturday.
Nuclear energy as a response to the climate crisis
Pierre Poilievre also reiterated his commitment to repeal the Federal Impact Assessment Act and replace it with legislation that aims to speed up the construction of energy projects, that also consults with First Nations communities and protects the environment.
The Conservative leader added that he would like nuclear power plants to be built more quickly. Saskatchewan has abundant uranium reserves and plans to build small modular nuclear reactors as part of its future electricity grid.
“We are going to fight climate change the exact opposite of Justin Trudeau,” declared Mr. Popilievre. He thinks the traditional energy we need is even more expensive. I believe in making alternatives more abundant and more affordable, and we have those alternatives right here in Saskatchewan.”
Mr. Moe and his Alberta counterparts have long challenged the federal bill, and his government in the spring passed the Saskatchewan First Act, which allows the province to review federal environmental policies it says harm the ‘economy of Saskatchewan.
Under a Poilievre government, Mr. Moe said recourse to the law probably wouldn’t be necessary.
“I think there would be a much more collaborative working relationship where we would work together to attract that investment and provide that opportunity,” Moe told reporters.
“Despite what some may think, I don’t wake up every morning thinking of a new way to not get along with the federal government,” he added.
The Supreme Court of Canada ruled against the federal law, finding it unconstitutional because it appeared to regulate activities within provincial jurisdiction.
Federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault said the court’s opinion does not overturn the law and will not change the way federal assessments have been conducted.
Mr. Moe received the support of 97% of delegates after his leadership review at the convention.
Saskatchewan is expected to hold an election next year.
The Premier of Saskatchewan, who addressed the delegates immediately after Mr. Poilievre, asked them who they trusted on important issues. He included his government’s pronoun legislation, which requires parental consent for under-16s to change their name or pronoun at school.
In an August by-election, the United Conservative Party of Saskatchewan, which claims to support parents’ rights, received 23% of the vote, appearing to undermine the Saskatchewan Party’s base. The Saskatchewan Party won the by-election with 54% of the votes cast.
Mr. Moe warned that the Conservatives must stand together as the election approaches to prevent the NDP from regaining power.
“Who do you trust to protect the education system: the education of Saskatchewan’s children?” The NDP, who thinks they know more than the parents? They trust the courts and the state more than parents, or the Saskatchewan party, which understands that parents are parents,” Mr. Moe said.
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