SASKATOON—Saskatchewan’s next premier says his province needs to maintain a working relationship with the federal government despite their differences over the imposition of a carbon tax.
Former environment minister Scott Moe came out on top over the weekend, winning the leadership of the Saskatchewan Party in five ballots and along with it the right to continue outgoing Premier Brad Wall’s legacy.
“We will not impose a carbon tax on the good people of this province,” Moe, 44, told his supporters.
“And Justin Trudeau, if you are wondering how far I will go—just watch me.”
The “just watch me” line was used by Trudeau’s father, Pierre, during the October Crisis in 1970, when he was asked by a reporter how far he was prepared to go to maintain law and order in Quebec.
Speaking with reporters after the speech Moe took a more conciliatory tone saying Saskatchewan had already indicated it’s prepared to take any imposition of a carbon tax to court if necessary.
He said Saskatchewan has its own climate change plan that he wants Ottawa to recognize.
“That is the information we’ll continue to speak loudly and speak from the rooftops if you will and not only to our federal government to ensure that what we are doing is being recognized, what we’re going to be doing is being recognized,” he said.
Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said she looks forward to working with Moe, but noted the government has been clear it wants provinces to implement a price on carbon.
“We know any serious climate plan requires you price what you don’t want—pollution—so you get what you do want—lower emissions, and innovation, and good jobs here in Canada and technology we can export abroad,” McKenna told reporters following a caucus meeting Sunday.
The leader of the United Conservative Party in Alberta said he welcomes a continued ally in the fight against the carbon tax.
“Congratulations to @ScottMoeSK on winning the @SaskParty Leadership election! I’m confident that as Premier of Saskatchewan, Scott will continue @PremierBradWall’s strong defence of the West, and our resource industries,” Jason Kenney tweeted.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also took to Twitter to offer his best wishes.
“Congratulations to the next premier of Saskatchewan, @ScottMoeSK. Looking forward to meeting soon & working together for people in SK.”
Moe said when it comes to trade issues and matters like infrastructure, the federal-provincial relationship works fairly well although he said there are “some differences of opinion from time-to-time.”
Moe said his first order of business is Saskatchewan’s next budget and he isn’t concerned that there will be any lingering resentment after the leadership campaign.
“Any leadership race such as this is going to have some edge of competitiveness if you will, and this was no different,” Moe said.
“We’ve been a united party. We worked together prior to this process and we’ll be working together after.”
Moe acknowledges it will be hard to step into the shoes of one of Canada’s most popular premiers.
But he said Wall was correct when he said his departure would give the Saskatchewan Party an opportunity for renewal with all the candidates travelling the province speaking to communities and grassroots members about what they wanted to see.
“This reminds me of how our party was formed just over two decades ago with the founding members doing the same process across the province. Criss-crossing this province, talking to people about their vision of their communities in the province,” Moe said.
Wall urged party unity in his final speech to delegates.
“What is at stake in the months and years ahead calls us, each one, to proffer our very best, our complete and fulsome effort to come together as a party after a very competitive process to unite so that our party may continue to have the honour of serving,” Wall said.
“If we come out of here united behind the leader well then we know who wins because this is the new Saskatchewan.”
The next election is Saskatchewan is scheduled for 2020.