Regina– Premier Scott Moe generally doesn’t attend protests in front of the Legislature, but he was front and centre on Jan. 6, speaking at the Regina rally for resources.
Immediately after the demonstration, Pipeline Newsspoke to Moe about the upsurge in activism in the oilpatch, something that was all but non-existent for the past decade, even up until last fall.
Asked what is going on with these energy sector protests, he replied, “I think you are seeing the frustration of an industry that is a sustainable industry. It’s an industry that produces wealth and jobs for us, here, in this province and in Western Canada. It’s an industry that is responsible, in many ways, for the high quality of life we have across the nation of Canada. You see that industry under siege from our federal government.
“We have the carbon tax that they’re attempting to introduce on our wealth-producing industries, here in Saskatchewan, our job-producing industries here in Saskatchewan, like agriculture, mining, manufacturing, and most notably, energy. You then see, piling on top of that, ill-informed, ineffective policy, which we’ll be fighting in the courts in just over a month – Bill C-69, the no-more-pipelines bill being introduced which will essentially stop all pipeline construction across the nation.
“Just the conversation around Bill C-69 caused the proponent for Energy East to leave that project. We see TMX (Trans Mountain Expansion Pipeline) in a stranglehold due to that bill making its way through the federal parliamentary system. We see the tanker bill being introduced which killed (Northern Gateway). We see it causing great consternation in the case of the Eagle Spirit Pipeline.
“We see a drilling ban in the northern parts of Canada that shuttered the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline. You see all of these regulatory policies that are being stacked on one another, essentially shutting down these industries that have been so important to the Canadian way of life, families’ way of life, across the nation. I think you see, here today, quite simply, they’ve had enough, and they’re starting to voice that.”
Estevan is ground zero
With regards to the rapidity and the scale of the Estevan truck convoy, which was organized and took place in less than 48 hours, he said, “I don’t know if I would expect it, but if I did expect it, I would expect it out of Estevan.
“When you look at Estevan, Estevan is ground zero for the siege that is being experienced by the federal government. Not only by the policies in the energy industry, and the lack of pipeline infrastructure that we have, ore are going to have the ability to have, if the federal government gets their way through the no-more-pipelines bill, through the carbon tax, through methane regulations, but also through the initiative of the federal government to phase out coal. Nowhere is that felt more than in the communities of Estevan and Coronach.
“Am I surprised or have I see this before? No I haven’t. Am I surprised to see it come together so quickly and so forcefully in a community like Estevan? I think, if it could happen anywhere, it could happen there, because it is very indicative of the damage the federal government is exerting on all Canadians is most evident in a community like Estevan,” he said.
Coal equivalency agreement
Moe expressed frustration with the federal government, which had been dragging its heels for many years on a on fleetwide equivalency agreement on carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power generation. Three days later, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, while in Regina, announced to the public that an equivalency agreement had been reached with the province.
That agreement had been printed in the Dec. 29, 2018, Canada Gazette. The agreement is now in a 60-day consultation period.
Moe noted that Saskatchewan has always operated on the plan we would have an equivalency agreement. This is to ensure not only that Saskatchewan is paying attention, but, “that we’re doing right by the environment,” he explained. “We’re paying attention to our emissions as a whole as opposed to segments of emissions.
“We want to do better by the next generation. I think everyone wants to partake in that conversation. In order to do that, you need to pay attention to the global picture. For us, in Saskatchewan, that’s our whole emissions portfolio, as opposed to just (Boundary Dam Units) 4 and 5.”
Regarding the defunct Energy East Pipeline, asked if it could happen with a new government in Ottawa, within one mandate, Moe said, “I think it should, and could happen, anyway. It needs to happen, anyway. It needs to happen. Bill C-69 needs to be scrapped, right? Let’s get that straight. Let me put that out there, out of the gate. The fact of the matter is Energy East is an important piece of infrastructure, nation-building infrastructure, in Canada. And we need to look at it. We need to look at it together, as provinces and the federal government and the industries that build this type of infrastructure, because of its important in Western Canadian supply to Canadians in Quebec and Ontario and Eastern Canada. That’s point one, we need to do it for our own energy independence.
“Point two is that we have a very sustainable product here in Western Canada, and it’s a product that we should be proud of, and we should talk about it. We should talk about it with other nations. So not only can we displace that dirtier energy product that’s coming in from other areas of the world for the energy we use in our nation, but we can launch some of our sustainable Canadian energy product to other nations. Not only are we competitive, we’re sustainable. We can displace some of those barrels of oil in other areas of the world.
“This is good for our economy, it’s good for Canadians and good for the environment,” Moe said.
The Energy East Pipeline, with the associated Cromer Lateral, would have allowed up to a quarter million barrels of oil from southeast Saskatchewan to displace foreign oil in Central and Eastern Canada. With regards to that, Moe said, “I’m going to be engaging, as the leader of this province, along with some premiers from some other provinces, not only with individuals and the leader of Quebec, as we move forward, but all of our leaders across the nation, because this is an important piece of infrastructure.”
He said that’s not only for Saskatchewan’s opportunities, and from a carbon perspective, but also in New Brunswick, where it would terminate in a refinery.
He noted that New Brunswick’s previous premier, and its current one, Premier Blaine Higgs, are both advocates of the pipeline, to put New Brunswickers to work and to ensure we’re creating wealth, not only in Saskatchewan and New Brunswick, but all along the line.
“From Saskatchewan’s perspective, when we have the opportunity for additional markets, and that’s essentially what this is, an additional market in addition to the U.S, that’s good. It’s good for Saskatchewan energy producers. It gives us the opportunity to expand our sustainable production, but to ensure we can close that oil differential that we’ve been expanding across Saskatchewan,” Moe said.