Notley and new Saskatchewan premier discuss action against B.C.
Saskatchewan’s new premier is considering retaliatory measures against B.C. over delays to the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion.
Trade could be one of them, says Scott Moe, but other actions will be considered too.
Moe spoke to Premier Rachel Notley for more than 30 minutes Monday. It was a friendly chat that focused largely on the dispute with B.C., both premiers said afterwards.
Notley hadn’t spoken to outgoing premier Brad Wall since last October. Their increasingly bitter dispute fouled the interprovincial waters and made collaboration on any issue almost impossible.
By contrast, Moe was on the line with Notley only three days after being sworn in.
In an interview after the phone conversation, he said:
“I spoke openly with Premier Notley with respect to me looking at what those options (for measures aimed at B.C.) might be, and we’ll speak again at the earliest opportunity when we both know a bit more.
“We will obviously be briefed on a number of issues. A trade option is one of those. I don’t think it’s one we’re actively looking at today, but we are looking at all our options as to how we will proceed.
“With the province of Canada, we have a joint issue here with respect to this pipeline and the approved construction of this pipeline, and the province of British Columbia is looking at slowing down or hindering that construction.”
Moe isn’t exactly throwing high-fives at Notley — that’s dangerous in conservative country. But he makes it clear that when the provinces have a shared economic interest, he will join with Canada to fight for it.
“I think this is the way I’ve always dealt with others,” Moe continued.
“You need to deal with other governments and individuals on an issue-by-issue basis. You’re going to agree on some issues; and others, quite simply, you will not.”
There may be a moment to revive beer and licence plates, he suggested. Trade irritants persist.
But after two years of Wall’s fulminations, the complete absence of partisan barbs is striking.
Moe didn’t utter the letters “NDP” when I spoke to him. Notley said later:
“I had a great first conversation with Premier Moe today. I congratulated him on his election and thanked him for the public comments he’s made lately in support of Canada and our fight to get our product to tidewater.
“On this issue of standing up to B.C., and their attack on working people across Canada, we are very aligned.”
The NDP’s relief at finding a serious ally is subdued but very real.
Notley had been increasingly isolated — battling with B.C. New Democrats, mistrusting the federal Liberals, never knowing when the next gust would roll over the prairie from Saskatchewan.
By the end, Wall was sounding like part of UCP Leader Jason Kenney’s campaign team.
Moe is distancing himself from Saskatchewan’s growing image for cross-border combativeness. He even had a kind word for Justin Trudeau.
“I commend the prime minister of Canada for his comments around indicating this is a pipeline that is under federal jurisdiction, this is a pipeline that has been consulted on with people, and has been approved and should now be a ‘go.’
“Those are comments I think British Columbia should take direction from.”
Moe said the carbon tax fight with Ottawa will continue. He certainly makes no promise of eternal peace with Canada.
“I don’t think it’s any secret that from time to time we may have differences with provinces, and some of the directions other provinces take.” But he promises they’ll be sorted out issue by issue, without partisan brawling.
“Political ideology aside, I’ll call ’em as I see ’em … and I will always see them on behalf of the people of Saskatchewan.”
Moe may have a lot of trouble carrying the Saskatchewan Party to another victory. He certainly doesn’t have Wall’s silver tongue.
But for Notley, the new neighbour’s every word is sweet music.
Don Braid’s column appears regularly in the Herald
Categorised in: Canadian News