SASKATOON — Premier Scott Moe took aim at the prime minister's commitment to place a federal cap on greenhouse gas emissions on Saturday as his leadership was reaffirmed at a Saskatchewan Party convention.
In his speech ahead of the leadership review, the premier described Justin Trudeau's decision to cap emissions as "an outright attack on the energy industry in Saskatchewan.”
Moe said Saskatchewan and other provinces weren’t notified of the official policy change prior to Trudeau's speech while attending COP26, the UN climate conference currently taking place in Scotland, though the Liberals promised the cap in their recent election platform.
The move was positioned as a step towards reaching net zero emissions by 2050.
“We don’t know what the impact will be on the Saskatchewan energy industry yet,” Moe said, but he encouraged the feds to push carbon capture technology to cut down on emissions.
“We understand there's a transition, but there’s also going to be usage of (oil) products today, and in purchasing those products we ask the world and the prime minister to advocate for Saskatchewan products, which today are some of the most sustainable.”
Last week, the province announced a goal to increase oil production from 450,000 barrels a day to 600,000 barrels a day.
Moe said he worries Trudeau’s announcement will reduce investment in the province’s energy sector.
“Russia, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia: they're all going to fill that void with a much more un-environmentally friendly product than we could be providing here in Canada,” Moe said.
“We should be opening up the opportunity to make Canadian energy available to the world by displacing energy produced in these other countries that have much higher greenhouse gas emissions than we have in Saskatchewan.”
Moe's speech prior to the Saturday vote focused heavily on Saskatchewan's resources, including recent investments made in the province’s canola, potash and tech sectors.
He spent less time addressing the COVID-19 pandemic even as the province continues to grapple with some of the highest rates of weekly cases and deaths in the country.
Nevertheless, a majority of members showed support for Moe's leadership, with more than 80 per cent of delegates backing the premier.
“We listen and try to ensure we're following the guidance of the province,” Moe said. “We take the guidance and conversations very seriously, especially during a time where we’re faced with a global pandemic, in a very challenging year.”
Following the vote, NDP Opposition Leader Ryan Meili said the party is culpable for the province's management of the pandemic.
"That tells you the problem isn't just Scott Moe, it's the Sask Party," Meili said.
"It's the cabinet that has said nothing, it's all of those MLAs who said nothing, who stood silently by and watched as Scott Moe led us into the worst fourth wave in the country."
It's unknown exactly how much support Moe garnered during the leadership review. The party only releases the number if the leader receives less than 80 per cent of the vote.
“Saskatchewan’s best days are ahead of us, and we're going to continue to work for Saskatchewan people and ask for their support,” Moe said.
This is the second leadership review Moe has faced since becoming premier in 2018, both times receiving support above 80 per cent.
A leadership vote is customary during such conventions, which take place every two years.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 6, 2021.
Mickey Djuric, The Canadian Press