Mending western fences: Saskatchewan premier Moe wants to meet with Trudeau soon
Talk of western alienation has increased since the Liberals secured a minority mandate, but one without a single seat in Alberta and Saskatchewan
REGINA—Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says there’s been some back and forth with the Prime Minister’s Office about a sit-down meeting in Ottawa on how the federal government can mend fences in the West.
Moe says he wants to talk to Justin Trudeau soon about national unity and how different parts of the country can get back on the same page after last week’s federal election.
Moe says he believes Saskatchewan should be in a strong and united Canada.
Talk of western alienation has increased since the Liberals secured a minority mandate, but one without a single seat in Alberta and Saskatchewan.
At the legislature in Regina on Monday, Moe reiterated his message that Trudeau needs to act if he’s serious about wanting to improve relations with Western Canada by scrapping the federal carbon tax and revamping equalization.
Moe also says he has been speaking with some of his counterparts since last week’s vote.
He says his message to Ontario Premier Doug Ford and New Brunswick’s Blaine Higgs has been one of unity.
“What they can do to support the unity of our country. What they can do to support, in this case, all the provinces engaging with this minority government … that we have.”
Moe suggests that increased support for western separatism is the end result of what has gone on over the first four years of a Trudeau government.
Both Saskatchewan and Alberta have criticized Ottawa for failing to get the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion built to the West Coast as a way of opening up overseas markets for the provinces’ oil.
There was a surge of support for an Alberta separatist group after the Oct. 21 vote in a movement dubbed “Wexit.” The VoteWexit Facebook page with its motto “The West Wants Out” went from 2,000 or so members the day of the election to nearly 160,000 by the next afternoon.
As for his province’s role, Moe said his government has to work with the prime minister “to ensure that Saskatchewan will be a strong and united partner within the nation.”
“This conversation is in the prime minister’s hands. The prime minister has every opportunity to engage with the premier of Saskatchewan … to ensure that we do take a different direction.”
The mayors from the province’s two largest cities have also spoken with Trudeau.
Regina Mayor Michael Fougere said frustration was the focus of a call on Tuesday. He said he passed on concerns he’s been hearing about the oil and gas sector, the Trans Mountain pipeline and not having any Liberal representation in Saskatchewan.
He said Trudeau acknowledged that the election results clearly showed there has been a deficiency in Ottawa’s policies and approach in the West.
Fougere suggested that the prime minister and Moe reach a compromise on the premier’s demands.
Separation from Canada is a non-starter, he added.
“It really is an expression of frustration by people … who were hoping that there would be a change in government or change in direction.”
Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark said he told Trudeau there is a feeling that Ottawa has not given priority to regional issues.
He said he told the prime minister that it is critical to take steps that will not allow the divide between regions to grow.
“I believe that talk about separation is damaging to both us as citizens of Saskatoon as well as the unity of our country, and we must act quickly to address this,” he said in a statement