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Editorial: An invitation would have been nice

An opinion piece on the latest spat between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The latest spat between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe seems to be over a phone call, or lack thereof.

The PM was in Saskatoon on Monday to tour a rare earth metals processing facility. That’s good. The more opportunities we have to promote this province and all that it has to offer, the better. And rare earth metals, such as lithium, graphite, nickel, cobalt, copper and more, are a real asset for the province.

You might not like the current prime minister, and you might criticize him, but it’s beneficial when he chooses to come here and learn about what we have to offer.

But it seems like the prime minister didn’t take the time to inform Premier Scott Moe of his plans to come to Saskatchewan, much to the chagrin of the premier.

We’re not sure what would have happened if the premier would have received sufficient advanced notice of Trudeau’s visit, but a phone call would have been nice.

Does the prime minister’s office typically notify a provincial government when coming for a visit? That’s probably the case. Has the PM’s office advised the Saskatchewan government when it opts to make a rare visit to this area? Judging by the premier’s reaction to this apparent snub, he’s used to knowing before others are informed.

It’s not exactly a secret that Moe and Trudeau don’t have a warm relationship. You could tell during the Sask. Party’s leadership campaign in 2017-18 that it wasn’t going to be friendly. Remember when Moe was elected leader of the Sask. Party in January 2018? His message to Trudeau was “Just watch me”, drawing from a quote by the prime minister’s father, Pierre, to address the younger Trudeau.

They haven’t mended the relationship since then.

You have to wonder how much of Moe’s reaction on Monday was genuine frustration at being snubbed by the PM, and how much of it was an effort to score more political points with his supporters and with others who just simply don’t like Trudeau.

And perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that Trudeau wasn’t going to reach out to Moe, given the fractured state of the relationship between the two. How much do these two really want to be in the same room together, regardless of the circumstances?

The Saskatchewan First Act brought forward by the provincial government last year is a direct response to the policies of the federal government over the past seven years and the impact they have had on Saskatchewan.

It would be nice if Trudeau would have actually spent more time in the province, toured other facilities and communities, and saw what is happening in this province when it comes to clean energy.

He is long overdue to tour the carbon capture and storage facility at the Boundary Dam Power Station, so he can see how coal can be both a baseload power source and a source of clean energy. While he’s at it, he could take a long, hard look at the efforts of oil and gas companies to reduce their environmental footprint.

And it would be good for him to see the environmental practices that farmers in Saskatchewan are employing.

The prime minister’s understanding of how people live in rural communities has long been lacking.

The sad part is that now we’re talking about Trudeau’s failure to call and Moe’s reaction to it, rather than what Saskatchewan is doing in rare earth minerals and other clean energy efforts. This should have been a showcase of these efforts and the people who are making them possible. A visit from the prime minister is a big deal and affirmation of the good work that is happening. A visit from both the prime minister and the premier would have been even better.

We could have had Trudeau and Moe talk about their mutual admiration for these efforts.

Instead, we received the latest chapter in the tensions between two leaders who seem to have no interest in mending their rift.

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