Photo: Heywood Yu The Canadian Press “When I am prime minister, the time when Ottawa said to the West Canadian to pay and keep quiet will be over once and for all,” declared Pierre Poilievre.
In front of the Saskatchewan Conservatives, federal Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre promised better relations with Western Canada if he became the next prime minister.
Poilievre, speaking at the Saskatchewan Party convention in Regina, praised Premier Scott Moe and his government for fighting Ottawa's carbon pricing program and called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to give up.
“When I become prime minister, the days of Ottawa telling Western Canada to pay up and shut up will be over once and for all,” he declared.
Mr. Poilievre took aim at Gudie Hutchings, the federal Minister of Rural Economic Development, who told CTV last week that residents of the Western and Prairie provinces should elect more Liberals if they want to have discussions on possible tax exemptions.
Justin Trudeau announced last week that the tax would be exempt for three years on home heating oil in order to respond to the rising cost of living. This decision should greatly help residents of the Atlantic provinces, where it is the main source of heating homes.
Mr. Poilievre and premiers across the country said the tax holiday was unfair to the rest of Canada.
Scott Moe said the provincial natural gas utility, SaskEnergy, will not remit the carbon tax to Ottawa starting Jan. 1 unless the federal government offers an exemption. This decision would violate federal law.
“We know that the solution, if you don't want a carbon tax, is not to elect more liberals, but to elect more conservatives sensible,” said Mr. Poilievre on Saturday.
Nuclear in response to the climate crisis
Pierre Poilievre also reiterated his commitment to repealing the Federal Impact Assessment Act and replacing it with legislation that aims to accelerate the construction of energy projects , which also consults with First Nations communities and protects the environment.
The Conservative leader added that he would like nuclear power plants to be built more quickly. Saskatchewan has abundant reserves of uranium and plans to build small modular nuclear reactors as part of its future power grid.
“We're going to fight climate change exactly the opposite of Justin Trudeau , declared Mr. Popilievre. He believes in making the traditional energy we need even more expensive. I believe in making alternatives more abundant and more affordable, and we have those alternatives right here in Saskatchewan.”
Mr. Moe and his Alberta counterparts have long challenged the federal bill, and his government in the spring passed the Saskatchewan First Act, which allows the province to review federal environmental policies it says harm Saskatchewan's economy.
Under a Poilievre government, Moe said recourse to the law would likely not be necessary.
“I think there would be a much more collaborative working relationship where we would work together to actually attract that investment and provide that opportunity,” Mr. Moe told reporters.
“Despite what some may think, I don't wake up every morning thinking of a new way to not get along with the federal government,” he added.
The Supreme Court of Canada s is ruled against the federal law, deeming it unconstitutional because it appears to regulate activities falling under provincial jurisdiction.
Federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault said the court opinion does not overturn the law and will not change the way federal assessments have been conducted.
Mr. Moe received support from 97% of delegates following his leadership review at the convention.
Saskatchewan is expected to hold an election next year.
The Premier of Saskatchewan, who addressed delegates immediately after Mr. Poilievre, asked them who they trusted on important issues. He included his government's pronoun legislation, which requires parental consent for children under 16 to change their name or pronoun at school.
During a By-election in August, the United Conservative Party of Saskatchewan, which claims to defend parental rights, received 23% of the vote, appearing to undermine the Saskatchewan Party's base. The Saskatchewan Party won the by-election with 54% of the votes cast.
Mr. Moe warned that Conservatives must be united as the election approaches to prevent the NDP from regaining power.
“Who do you trust to protect the education system – the education of the children of Saskatchewan? The NDP, who thinks they know more than parents? They trust the courts and the state more than they trust parents, or the Saskatchewan Party which understands that parents are parents,” said Mr. Moe.