Deputy prime minister visits Colonsay, Sask., tours potash mine

·3 min read

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland visited Colonsay, Sask. on Wednesday to tour a potash mine and speak about the importance of Canadian natural resources on the national and global stage.

At the Mosaic potash mine in Colonsay, which was shut down for significant portions of the COVID-19 pandemic but now employs more than 300 workers on site again, Freeland said that production of potash - a key ingredient in fertilizer - is becoming increasingly important.

"Potash … is a strategic resource," she said. "It always has been a strategic resource, because it is part of how we feed the people, and nothing is more important than that. But with Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, potash has become even more critical."

Other world leaders, too, are paying attention to Canada's potash mining operations - particularly since the invasion of Ukraine.

"I get asked at international meetings about Canada and our ability to supply some of the strategic resources that the world no longer wants to buy from Russia," she said. "I am proud to get asked that question, because I am really proud that Canada can play a role in supporting democracy and supporting our democratic allies."

While Freeland talked about how other countries are increasingly looking to Canada to supply natural resources like potash while "Russia and Belarus are - quite rightly - being shut out of the global economy," she also reaffirmed her strong criticism of the "barbaric" invasion.

In this geopolitical environment, Freeland said Canadian potash is a critical part of global food security.

"People producing potash in Saskatchewan are feeding the world," she said. "That’s not an exaggeration. Canada is the world’s largest producer and exporter of potash. 32 per cent of the world’s total, in 2020.

"Farmers around the world depend on our potash. … And that means that millions and millions of people depend on the work that is being done here, right now."

But here in Canada, the federal government has been facing criticism around a plan seeking to reduce fertilizer-related greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent by 2030.

In a recent survey, nearly three-quarters of Canadian farmers said their crop yields and overall food production would fall if they were forced to cut back on fertilizer.

But Freeland says that farmers are already very good at minimizing their use of fertilizer while making sure they're using enough to grow what they need.

"I know a lot of farmers," she said. "And I do not know a single farmer who uses more fertilizer than he or she absolutely needs to. Fertilizer is expensive. And so I have a lot of confidence in the very good judgment of Canadian farmers in running their farms."

While in the Saskatoon area, Freeland also met with Mayor Charlie Clark and visited Baba's Closet, a community organization that supports Ukrainian families by providing them with free essentials and school supplies.

"In recent months, hundreds more Ukrainians have come here to Saskatchewan after being forced to flee their homes by Vladimir Putin’s illegal invasion," she said. "I am really grateful to the people of Saskatchewan for welcoming them so warmly. ...

"When I got off the plane in Saskatoon last night, one of the first things I saw was a blue and yellow flag. And I think the people seeking refuge here will have taken great comfort from that."

Julia Peterson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The StarPhoenix