What's apparent is that the Saskatchewan Party government needs help from their federal government counterparts right now on the potash file.
What's not necessarily apparent is whether Ottawa will provide that help.
That federal Conservative politicians, especially, Saskatchewan's 13 MPs from largely rural-based ridings, would have even the slightest hesitation to act on concerns of the province may be puzzling to some.
At least part of the problem is that the Stephen Harper's Conservatives have become a little too comfortable in the notion that they don't have to do much to earn Saskatchewan votes beyond a little gun legislation.
But an even bigger problem is that the federal government may be so fundamentally philosophically right wing that it sees this attempted potash takeover as nothing more than a business transaction in which government shouldn't be inferring. If so, this is now a big problem.
The issue here isn't simply the usual grousing about Ottawa still not providing Saskatchewan with enough ... or even a federal government that hasn't been great at keeping its promises.
The electorate here has long forgiven Harper and his Saskatchewan caucus for breaking its $800-million-a-year promise to remove natural resources from the equalization formula. (That said, if Brad Wall hadn't been quite so eager to defend Harper and company for breaking his 2006 campaign promise, the Saskatchewan Premier might have had that card to play right now.)
Nor is this necessarily the usual griping about a lack of support for Saskatchewan infrastructure funding, carbon sequestration, clean coal technology, agriculture program funding, flood relief or even a domed football stadium in Regina. (Frankly, local MPs deserve some credit for sticking to a principled stance that Ottawa ought not be paying a lion's share for local sports facilities.)
The reality that Wall's government now needs the federal government's help in dealing with that $38.6-billion takeover bid by Australia's BHP Billiton of PotashCorp.
This issue has moved into Ottawa's hands because any takeover has to have Investment Canada's stamp of approval. It's here where the federal Tories, especially, local MP, need to step up on behalf of the province and ensure this bid is in Saskatchewan's best interest. One might think this would be a given, but there is now doubt right now that Ottawa will step up and act in Saskatchewan's best interests. The concern creeps up as a result of the intense lobbying we're now seeing from BHP Billiton to have this deal approved.
Most recently, word leaked out to eastern-based financial media outlets that BHP Billiton has offered the Saskatchewan government $370 million as a one-time payment to offset the revenue loss resulting from the takeover. The leak very much appeared to be a calculated effort on the part of BHP Billiton to influence Conservatives in Ottawa, the people controlling that federal legislation that stands in the way of the takeover.
Suffice to say, the Wall government was very unhappy about both the story and BHP Billiton's tactics and quickly rebutted that the takeover had the potential to cost Saskatchewan taxpayers $3 billion in lost royalty and tax revenue.
That BHP Billiton now thinks it can get its own way by simply refocusing its lobbying efforts towards Ottawa through selective leaks to eastern-based financial newspapers should be a big concern to us all. This certainly is a big concern in the ranks of Wall's government, where there is legitimate worry that the federal government don't get what's at stake for Saskatchewan and see this takeover as little more than a simple business transaction.
We need the federal Conservatives and our local MPs to go to bat for this province.The big question right now is whether the Conservatives will step up to the plate.