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MP Kitchen talks energy, federal politics during Estevan Coffee Talk

Souris-Moose Mountain MP Robert Kitchen was the latest guest at the Estevan Chamber of Commerce's Coffee Talk last week.
Souris-Moose Mountain MP Robert Kitchen talked about the energy sector during the Estevan Chamber of Commerce's Coffee Talk.

ESTEVAN — Souris-Moose Mountain MP Robert Kitchen talked about the energy sectors and other issues facing the country during a speech at the Estevan Chamber of Commerce's Coffee Talk on Jan. 10 at the Days Inn.

Kitchen took aim at the federal government when it came to such issues as the carbon tax, affordability and the oil and gas sector.

He noted he has spent nine years trying to make the federal Conservative Party's leadership aware of carbon capture and storage, which has been utilized at SaskPower's Boundary Dam Power Station since 2014. He believes current Tory Leader Pierre Poilievre understands the message, and Kitchen noted that Poilievre even refers to him as the Carbon Capture Kid.

"Coal is cheap in many ways, and provides a great energy source, and with CCS on it, can provide for the capture of those emissions and provide the energy that we need at a low cost," said Kitchen.

There will be a lot of talk about small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs) and other changes, but Kitchen said the different levels of government also have to think about coal miners and SaskPower workers and how to prepare them to work at the SMRs if those are selected.

"The workforce that we have here has that skill set, but we have to provide avenues for them so they can easily transition to whatever that next step may be," said Kitchen. "To me, most importantly though, that next step needs to be here. It doesn't need to be in some other part of the world or some other part of the country."

If the Tories are elected as government, they will scrap the carbon tax. He believes if the controversial tax was working, creating jobs and capturing emissions, people would be behind that, but Kitchen described it as a redistribution of money.

"The reality is it's not doing anything," said Kitchen.

He didn't have an answer when asked about the degree to which the carbon tax would be scrapped as there are different levels. But he did say legislations put in place to "restrict the oil and gas and energy movement" would be repealed. Changes wouldn't happen overnight, and the Tories' ability to create change would be dependent on whether the Conservatives get a minority or a majority government in the next election.

And he noted the federal debt is now $1.3 trillion, and the costs of the interest rates on the debt continue to rise.

Kitchen said he wants to see people in Souris-Moose Mountain have faith in the government again.

"That's what we need right now, and that's what, in my opinion, is taking this country down, is there's no respect, and rightly so, because this present government shouldn't get any respect for what they've done … and so people are not proud to be Canadian," said Kitchen.

Once people have faith in their country and government, businesses will want to invest.

The Tories would also yank the Clean Electricity Regulations and back away from the Liberals' plan to require all new vehicles sold in Canada to be electric in 2035.

"It takes time for that technology. It takes time for those batteries to be able to provide that energy source, which we don't have in today's world," he said.

As for when the next federal election might take place, it's not scheduled until the fall of 2025, but the Liberals currently have a minority government with support from the New Democratic Party, and it could be toppled at any time.

"My guess … is it will be this fall coming up … and the rationale for that, in my mind, is this prime minister is going to do everything he can to try to use the American election to get Canadians believing that what will happen down in the States is going to happen up here," said Kitchen.

The next coffee talk will be Feb. 7 when Angud Singh, the city of Estevan's economic development co-ordinator, will provide an update on his work to promote and grow Estevan.