Regina – Many of the people who took part in the Regina Rally for Resources said they wanted to support Premier Scott Moe in his fight against the federally-imposed carbon tax. On April 4, at the culmination of the massive convoy and following rally, Moe professed his support for them.
The premier, who, in his previous portfolio as Minister of the Environment, had walked out of a ministers’ meeting where the federal carbon tax was announced, was in his element, with approximately 1,500 people present. The room’s partitions were all opened up, and facility workers were sending additional attendees to a room across the hall to watch on a video screen. It was, quite literally, standing room only.
Congratulating the participants on the size of the convoy, Moe started by saying, “Let me say to the rest of Canada, welcome to the silent majority!”
“This convoy, your convoy, has converged here in our province’s capital city, but it came from all across our great province, from almost every sector in our economy. We have trucks here from the energy sector. We have trucks here from agriculture, from mining, from manufacturing. They’re all here from all parts of our economy today and the fact that you are here tells me something about your values.
“It tells me something about your character. It tells me something about your families, your coworkers, and you communities you live in. It tells me you care about the future of this province and you care about the future of this great nation we all live in,” Moe said.
“Today, you, we, all of us together, we’re sending a message from coast to coast to coast that is as clear as prairie sky, and it’s a message to the prime minister of this nation. It’s time we came together to defend our world class resource industries, the industries that create wealth, they create hoe, and they create opportunity, all across Canada.
“It’s time for us to work together to bring down the barriers to responsible resource development and the thousands of jobs that we all know that come with that responsible resource development. It’s time for us to roll back that destructive carbon tax that will do nothing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A carbon tax that will do nothing but kill jobs and drive investment out of our province and out of our communities,” he said, saying that it’s time to get Saskatchewan, and Canada, working again.
He pointed out that for the longest time, “We were the only rig on the road. Saskatchewan was the only province that had stepped out and opposing this federal carbon tax.”
He offered thanks for all the support received, now, and for Premier Brad Wall before him.
“One year ago, it was Saskatchewan alone. Now it is Saskatchewan, and New Brunswick, and Ontario, and Manitoba, and very shortly, maybe Alberta. That will be five provinces presenting 60 per cent of the population of our great nation, the population of Canada, that will oppose this carbon tax. And yesterday, I’m sure many of you saw the news, Manitoba has launched another legal challenge against this carbon tax.”
He welcomed Manitoba as an ally.
“Here’s what we need, in this province, to be successful. We need market access for our products. Two, we need the ability to get our goods to market, by road, by rail, by pipeline. And three, we need a tax and regulatory structure that allows us to compete with our competitors around the world. We get those three things, and we are successful in this province.”
Moe said the Liberal government in Ottawa has not been helpful on any of those three points.
“What they are delivering is Bill C-48, the no more tankers bill. What they are delivering is Bill C-69, the no more pipelines bill. We have pipelines projects across this nation that are stalled. We have pipelines that are not getting built. And we have a federal government that, in addition to that, is delivering to use a federally-imposed carbon tax.
“We look at these policies, and you just try to tell me that this is a federal government that supports working people in this country. You try to convince me that they care about what happens to you, what happens to your family, or what happens to your community, or what happens to your job in the industry you work in.”
He pointed out that NDP Leader Ryan Meili was not present. “As you heard this past week, the NDP Leader decided not to come today because he thinks this rally is motivated by anti-immigrant sentiments. Of course, we all know that’s nonsense. This rally is motivated by policy decisions that have been made by our federal government that restrict the growth of our province, that restrict the growth of our economy, that restrict the growth in our jobs in our communities that we all live in, and they restrict the growth of our population in those communities.
“The Saskatchewan that we know and we love, in the communimties across our province, we have welcomed thousands of newcomers to our communities, to live, to work, to raise their families.”
He pointed out 165,000 people came to Saskatchewan, of which 123,000 came from 180 countries to settle in over 430 communities. “They moved here because of the opportunity, because there’s hope, and because there’s a job. They moved here, to build a career, to create a business or raise a family, to contribute to this province that we love. And we are grateful that they chose this province of Saskatchewan.
“But ladies and gentlemen, as we know, none of this is why the NDP leader is not attending here today. I think we can all agree on this. The real reason that Mr. Meili is not here today is that he actually supports a Trudeau carbon tax. The real reason he is not here today is he actually opposes the construction of pipelines. And the real reason he’s not here today is because he has absolutely no interest in hearing from anyone, meaning you, that doesn’t share his point of you. It’s pretty clear to me the NDP does not support you. And why on earth would any of you support them?” Moe said.
“Meanwhile in Ottawa we have a federal government that is displaying its own kind of contempt. If the federal government actually generally wanted, and was concerned, and wanted to support our workers in Saskatchewan, in Western Canada and across the nation, it would kill Bill C-69 immediately. There’s no better example, to my knowledge, of any anti-worker legislation in this country than that bill, Bill C-69, the ‘no more pipelines bill,’ as it’s been dubbed. The no more potash mine bill, I would add to that. The no more uranium mine bill, I would add to that. The no more industry in Saskatchewan bill, I would add to that.
“In Canada, we already have one of most stringent environmental review processes in the world. This is a process we can be so proud of. Billions of dollars are spent by private industry, surprise, each and every year, ensuring that our projects are in compliance with environmental laws. You tell me this, what country in the world has a more stringent environmental process?
“Do the countries that deliver oil by tanker to Eastern Canada, to Eastern Canadian ports, have a stronger law than Western Canada? I think not,” Moe said.
“Does Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Venezuela, Iraq, do they care about the environment more than we do in Western Canada? My friends, we don’t need a major overhaul of our Canadian environmental process. What we need is an environmental review process that works for you and all Canadians. What we are getting, is Bill C-69, which essentially, by the way, killed Energy East.
“Now well all know Energy East, the value to use in Saskatchewan, but it’s also a nation-building project, in every respect. It would create jobs in almost every province in the nation of Canada. A project that would displace oil coming from these countries I mentioned that have such lower environmental rigour laws, and the liberal government said no, no to Energy East. Just like they said no to the Northern Gateway pipeline, with Bill C-48, the tanker ban.
“Here’s the consequence of continuing to say no. When you say no often enough, people start to get the message. Investors get the message. They understand they just aren’t welcome. And as we know, in our industries, capital is very mobile, and it’s moving south in many cases. We have billions of dollars now that is moving into North Dakota, it’s moving into Texas and it’s moving into New Mexico.
“Here in Canada, we have the third largest proven oil reserves in the world. It’s clean, it’s sustainably produced energy, yet we don’t have, we don’t get world prices for our energy because we just simply can’t build a pipeline across this great nation of ours.
“We lose billions of dollars, each and every year, and I would say not only in this province, but everyone in Canada is shortchanged by that fact. I say everyone in Canada because the resource sector in this country that we participate in pays billions of dollars in royalties and taxes. Those dollars support the quality of life that we have in this province and support the quality of life that we have across the nation.”
Moe explained, “Those dollars build hospitals. They build highways. They build schools. They build long-term care centres for our families. These are the infrastructure and services that these resource industries support, in Saskatchewan and across Canada. And today, because of the challenges that we have, it is so much more difficult for us to contribute to the nation. And we are a proud contributor. But through these investments, we contribute. Through equalization, we contribute. We are contributing less, because our resource sector, and as a matter-of-fact, all of our sectors, are under attack.
“They’re under attack from a federal government that has introduced Bill C-69, Bill C-48. We have tougher federal methane regulations that we’re working towards. And now, ladies and gentlemen, as of last week we have a carbon tax in our province.
“A carbon tax that was described by many of your MLA, the member for Weyburn, our environment minister, the Hon. Dustin Duncan, and I quote, ‘A Justin Trudeau, Ralph Goodale, Liberal Party of Canada, job-killing, soul-sucking, unconstitutional, supported by the Saskatchewan NDP carbon tax!” he said to hoots and applause.
“Rather catchy, isn’t it it? Rather accurate as well.”
Here, Moe touched on something that Meili had called upon him to say, regarding anthropogenic (human-induced) climate change.
Moe went on, “But don’t get me wrong. In Saskatchewan, we accept that climate change is happening. We even accept that humans are contributing to that. What we don’t accept is a federal government imposing that on our industries, our provinces, and our families across the nation. In particular, this province, which I have the honour of representing.
“The federal government’s own research says this isn’t going to work in the province of Saskatchewan. And that shouldn’t be a surprise, because it hasn’t actually worked anywhere else that it’s been introduced. It certainly hasn’t worked in British Columbia, where they’ve had it over a decade, where emissions continue to rise.
“A carbon tax, quite simply, is the wrong policy for a jurisdiction like ours, with an export-orientated, energy-intensive economy that we participate in. It’s the wrong policy, quite frankly, for Canada.
“A one-size fits-all destructive carbon tax hurts workers, it hurts businesses and it hurts families, from coast to coast to coast in this nation. But there’s good news in all of this. There’s a better way. There’s a better path to follow.”
He spoke of the Saskatchewan government’s “Prairie Resilience” climate change strategy. He characterized it as “a plan that recognizes the reality of our province, and recognizes the reality of the industries that operate in our province and it actually reduces emissions in our province, unlike the carbon tax. The difference between the two is that our Prairie Resilience strategy was actually designed alongside industry. We worked with industry to achieve what is possible.
“We want to continue to encourage our Saskatchewan industries to find innovative solutions, and there’s a key word, innovation, to ensure we continue to do better for that next generation. We all have kids, and we all care.
“For example, our SaskPower Company is expanding their renewable capacity. We’re moving to 50 per cent renewables in our generating capacity by the year 2030. We’ve invested more than a billion dollars in a world-leading carbon capture project at Boundary Dam 3, near Estevan.
“And Saskatchewan actually, and I’ve participated in these conversations, yes, is we are a global leader, when it comes to carbon capture and storage.”
Moe said, “Here’s the opportunity, that we have, in the world, moving forward, with carbon capture. In the last five years alone, China has added 191,000 megawatts of coal-fired power generation – just coal-fired. That’s about 150 per cent of what Canada does each and every year, total. All new. All coal. And that’s just in China.
“Today there are 1,600 new coal-fired power plants being built, or planned, around the world. Imagine the possibility for emissions reductions with innovations like carbon capture and storage.
“The work we have done in Estevan, at Boundary Dam 3, and I saw ‘we’ collectively, as a province, will have more impact on greenhouse gas emissions than a federal carbon tax can ever actually hope.
“The innovation in carbon capture and storage needs to be recognized. The federal government should also recognize the contribution of clean, sustainable, nuclear power industry around the world that is supplied by Saskatchewan uranium. It should acknowledge the work, the great work, that is done in our agriculture industry.
“The role our farmers and ranchers, our researchers and equipment manufacturers have played in reducing global emissions is tremendously valuable, and not talked about enough.
“Not only are we carbon neutral in our crop agriculture in this province, no one else in the world can actually make that statement but this province.
“We manufacture and export air drills now all around the world. I think of Bourgault, I think of Seedhawk, Seedmaster. I think of Morris. I think of Pillar Laser and I probably missed some but there’s so much more. We export those to places like Russia and Kazakhstan and the United States, where they’re using that technology to actually using that technology, that innovation, that was actually developed by you in this room, and us in this province, to reduced carbon emissions in those far away places.
“And of course, we use those air drills here in Saskatchewan. We’re going to use a bunch of them here in just a week or two. Zero-till, combined with a huge increase in pulse crops, has actually help turn Saskatchewan soils into an enormous carbon sink over the course of just the last 20 or 25 years.”
“New technology continues to cut our greenhouse gas emissions by many millions of tonnes each year. For example, also in agriculture, many of you in this room also drove a diesel truck to get here. The tractors, trucks that we drive today, as we all know, are so much more efficient as they were a few years ago, and this needs to be acknowledged, as well, moving forward, by our federal government.”
Moe concluded, “Let me close with this: We continue, in this nation, to have the wrong conversation. We need to change the conversation. We need to shift our focus away from an ineffective carbon tax towards innovation and technology and what research and science can do for us.
“In Saskatchewan, we’ve already done that. We’re already making a difference in all of these areas, in all of our industries. In Saskatchewan we’re making a difference in in our fields. We’re making a difference in our research labs. We’re making a difference at the bottom of our mine shafts, at the top of our oil derricks, and we’re making a difference on the highway, each and every time we drive one of those trucks down them. Saskatchewan is making a difference across this nation by leading the opposition to a federal carbon tax.
“And very soon, we are going to hear about the difference we made in a courtroom. And after we hear from that courtroom, we will something totally different in Ottawa. We will look for a government that supports Saskatchewan energy. We will look for a government that supports our Saskatchewan agriculture industry. We will look for a government that supports our Saskatchewan mining and manufacturing industries. A government whose first priority, whose singular objective, is to get our province and our nation working again. We look forward to that day. Let me tell you, it can’t come soon enough.”