Jordan: As you might be aware, Western Canada has a long, proud history of being really angry at Trudeaus. And right now, it might be worse than it’s ever been.
News Clip: I never thought in my life I’d be making picket signs and protesting. This is my 19th year with my business. This is my slowest year in 19 years.
Jordan: A lot of that anger lives in Saskatchewan, which was the first province to legally challenge Trudeau’s liberals over their carbon tax. And that actually creates an interesting contradiction since voters in Saskatchewan list climate change as their second most pressing concern, so of climate change is a big worry. And it is because a lot of crops are grown in Saskatchewan. Why are voters so skeptical of parties plans to fight it? And what kind of plan could they get behind? This is a complicated question and one that every Saskatchewan voter will have to wrestle with. Right now the polls show almost every one of the 14 writings in this province leading towards the conservatives. But here’s another contradiction. Saskatchewan is also the birthplace of the NDP, and it is home to a liberal Member of Parliament who has served more than 25 consecutive years. So will Saskatchewan really, fully turned blue. Even there, and if it is going to what do we need to watch for? I’m Jordan Heath Rawlings. this is the big story. Stephanie Taylor Is the Saskatchewan correspondent for The Canadian press. She joins us from Regina. Hi, Stephanie. How’s democracy going out in Saskatchewan with less than two weeks to go?
Stephanie: It’s good. It’s thriving, it’s alive. I would say that people are really engaged of what’s going on with the federal government. I mean, we are kind of grand zero ground zero for the anti carbon tax fight. You know, we’re the first province that kind of came out swinging against it and then took it to court. So there’s been a lot of that building which kind of leads into the federal election. And there’s a lot of other dislike, frustration growing towards what’s happening with the federal government. You know, if you take a drive down any Highway in Saskatchewan and maybe I shouldn’t say any highway, but lots of them and there’s lots of places you can drive in this province. You can see some kind of anti Justin Trudeau anti carbon tax anti Ottawa billboards, so people are certainly engaged and I think that comes from a place of kind of a building frustration. And if you’ve never been to Saskatchewan, it’s important to know that this is a province where agriculture is really, really important. And so we’re also a big exporting province. So things like the issue with China over canola and just some of the other kind of trade issues, even what’s going on with the new NAFTA with the US has had people kind of really paying attention to what’s going on. So I’d say democracy is alive and well.
Jordan: Well, you kind of touched on something else I wanted to ask you because one of the reasons we do this series is to try to help Canadians from very far away from the province we’re talking about understand issues in a little more detail. And when we talk about the western vote here in Ontario, and probably elsewhere, it tends to be monolithic. Like I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard Alberta and Saskatchewan will probably all go conservative. So I’m hoping you can help unpack for us. How Saskatchewan is different from Alberta in this federal election, in terms of the issues?
Stephanie: I mean, Saskatchewan is is very similar to Alberta in terms of the issues in this federal election. I think Saskatchewan has more in common with Alberta, not just politically, but economy wise. I mean, there are differences. Saskatchewan isn’t as big as Alberta. Our economy just isn’t quite there yet. You know, I think one of the differences politically is that you know, we have Alberta premier Jason Kenny who’s like out campaigning for him to share and been in Ontario and has really kind of been stomping for him for a while where Saskatchewan premier Scott Mo, although he hasn’t formally endorsed Andrew shear in everything but name you know, he is opposed to the carbon tax and as opposed to a lot of the the direction the federal government is taking when it comes to energy, but that the Saskatchewan government has its roots as a coalition government. So the government here for someone who doesn’t know what’s called the system to a party, it was born out of a coalition. So you know, that includes liberals. I mean, for someone to look at the party these days and the direction it’s taken, it might seem like a conservative government and everything but name you know, premier Scott Miller was a card carrying conservative as many other people are in his cabinet, but it has this coalition roots. So we’re not as like, outwardly conservative politically as say, Kenny is, but I think it’s fair to say that although we’re not a monolith, we are very similar to Alberta and I guess kind of moved in that direction. Even though this province, you know, has pretty big new democratic roots. You know, Tommy Douglas was the former premier here, but we’re pretty safe conservative province for kind of a number of different reasons.
Jordan: Where did the Saskatchewan resistance to the carbon tax start? Why Why did it happen first there.
Stephanie: I mean, this started under former premier Brad wall and I think the Kinect talking points about why this province or why that the provincial government doesn’t like the carbon tax is kind of been largely the same, right? You know, feels like it doesn’t work feels like the only thing it really does is going to be driving investment south or outside of the provinces borders at a time when we know that there are jobs being lost in the oil and gas sector. So that is so it’s kind of that sentiment, which has been brewing and is still kind of what we hear today from the government that’s opposed to it. But I think beyond what politicians are saying, there is a sense among the people who live here predominantly in like rural areas that they don’t have a lot of options to say, you know, get out of their cars. So for example, right you want the big opposition was you know, or one of the big kind of points from the Premier’s both mall and now mo was that kind of, you know, gas prices are going to be going up that’s going to be making life more expensive. for the average person living here, you know, bring your Scott mo is kind of this The main thing he’s been saying when it comes to the carbon tax. But if you live in rural Saskatchewan, which like more than half the population in this province does depend on your vehicle you depend on it to drive to work to take your kids to a hockey game to go visit friends, right? Like, it’s not like someone living in Oh, I don’t know, you can think of any RM or Hamlet here has the opportunity to like jump on transit or participate in like a car show which maybe you could in like downtown Toronto or another kind of city suburb. So, you know, there is this sense that the carbon tax maybe doesn’t necessarily fit with just how people live their lives in like rural parts of the country that if that makes a little bit of sense.
Jordan: Totally. But it’s just interesting because the economy is almost always cited as the top issue and I was just looking at like some Saskatchewan Specific polls ahead of this conversation, and the economy is on top. But then right behind it is climate change. But in my mind Saskatchewan is so vocally opposed to the carbon tax. What? What policies and climate initiatives? Do you get the sense that Saskatchewan would coalesce around?
Stephanie: Well, that’s a really complex question. And premier Scott Mo, was posed the question of like, how much are you willing to kind of take an economic hit in order to be reducing emissions? And the answer that came from him, as well as the minister of the environment was like we want to do as little kind of economic damage or kind of secret or whatever term you want to use in order to reduce emissions. And so this province is is their big focus is kind of working with the industry and investing in a new technology. So, for example, Saskatchewan has coal fired plants that produce electricity and there has been an investment in years past Yeah. to something called carbon capture, which is kind of it is a bit of a complicated way of explaining it. But it is about how do we keep coal fire plants going while responding to the fact that like coal is bad for the environment, this government has to respond to the fact that farmers and agricultural producers produce carbon. And what do you do about that? You know, these are people’s livelihoods. And I’ve spoken to farmers here who kind of feel a bit under attack, when they feel that people are kind of saying that their livelihood like for example, the livelihood of a cattle rancher, or running producer is actually kind of harming the environment. Well, these are people who’ve farmed land for years and years and years, and you know, they’ve been raised on it and they want to raise their kids on it. So there’s when it comes to what this province is doing for, for climate change initiatives, it’s about like, the focus is on resiliency. Our provincial plan is called prairie resilience and it’s all about kind of how can we work with these industries. to curb the effects of climate change, and there is targets to reduce emissions to increase solar things of that nature. But at the end of the day, it’s kind of this this between a rock and a hard place of how do you, you know, support your farmers, your oil and gas industry politically, but also try and respond to people who say we need to be reducing emissions, and we’re dealing with the current climate crisis. And within that, the premier Scott Lowe has repeatedly said, you know, we just don’t think a carbon tax is actually going to be working.
Jordan: So have any of the Federal leaders actually come to Saskatchewan and addressed that kind of concern of balancing the need for climate action with the economy and the province?
Stephanie: Well, that’s interesting. So all three federal leaders have come on Justin Trudeau came, I think the day after the kind of blackface photo broke so he actually held a bit of a town hall in Saskatoon. And so the questions some of the questions were about black face, some because it was a town hall the questions were kind of a bit of everywhere, but I mean, when he’s been here in the past, like he was at Regina, in Regina for a town hall earlier this year, and he says that, you know, carbon tax works, it puts money in the pockets of people here in terms of rebates, but he also talks about, you know, the fact that this that his government bought a pipeline and that they are very invested and they are trying to walk This line between climate change and addressing climate change as well as the economy. Andrew Scheer stops in Saskatoon as well. The writing he stopped in is worth noting is actually home of sherry Benson who was a deputy leader of the NDP Jagmeet Singh and the NDP was here just last week. And one of the interesting things with him is, you know, his opposition to pipelines really has left some new democrats in Saskatchewan feeling like this party’s at hooped this election that the seats that they gained in 2015 are going to be lost simply by the fact that he’s come out and said an NDP government wouldn’t be imposing a national infrastructure on to a province that didn’t want one. He’s opposed to the trans mountain pipeline expansion. Well, for those who don’t know, Saskatchewan is also home to Evraz, which is a steel mill and the union that represents steel workers that ever says, you know, for the first time and how many years were actually thinking about voting conservative because we just don’t think that the NDP are kind of sticking up for our jobs and to that question, Singh said, Well, basically, we want to offer people something better than the boom and bust economy will want to be investing in green technology and green jobs and helping people transition out of it. So it’s a really tough thing to talk about in Saskatchewan to talk about climate change without having to talk about the economy. And I think the provincial government kind of does that. I want to say on purpose a little bit, but there is truth to the fact that a lot of the kind of environmentally intensive, you know, economies here, whether we’re talking about farming or oil and gas or manufacturing of pipe, they kind of go hand in hand. Right. So it’s, it’s tough for even residents living here to, you know, talk about climate change in some ways without but what do we do about this jobs? What do we do about the fact that if this country stops building pipelines or move away from it, where am I going to be getting my job from how was My rural municipality going to be kind of sustaining its tax base.
Jordan: Right well beyond the climate change, concerned. How does Saskatchewan see the past four years of this Liberal government? Have they delivered what was promised? Beyond the pipeline obviously, and, and what do they think about what they’ve actually gotten?
Stephanie: So, yeah, Western alienation is certainly alive and well in Saskatchewan. And I think, and people much smarter than me have described that, you know, have actually described at Western alienation is really kind of a feeling. It’s a sense that like, people in Toronto, or I should say, Ontario and Quebec just really don’t get what it’s like to live here. And I think under this current federal government that’s led by Trudeau which and the Trudeau name was already kind of not in good favour within Saskatchewan and Alberta because of Pierre Elliott Trudeau bringing in the National Energy board. This this anger in the West has really grown and at one point, it used to be the carbon tax was kind of the rallying cry against the Liberal government, but now it’s kind of fanned out into a whole host of things. So Whether it was the changes to the tax changes that affected small businesses that were kind of rolled out and introduced a few years ago when consultations took place during harvest, and harvest is a really busy time for farmers here so they kind of felt like you’re asking us about this change but how do you actually expect to get us our feedback when we’re working kind of day and night to get grain in the bin? weather and like I said, the carbon tax bill c 69, premier Scott locals out them and no more pipeline bills, they’ll see 48 restricting tankers off the coast of British Columbia. You know, there is the dispute and the ongoing dispute the diplomatic spat with China over kind of blocking canola sales. Well, that’s affects farmers in Saskatchewan who are growing canola, right and they’re kind of looking is that a bit of a point of frustration. So I mean, these past four years have really just been like thing after thing that people here I should say, predominantly in kind of rural areas feel like they’re just don’t get it. Justin Trudeau and the Liberal government just doesn’t get what the priorities are here for the people. And they aren’t listening. You know, I’ve talked to some who say I’ve never really necessarily been engaged in politics before. But, you know, my frustration is now making me kind of pay attention more than it ever has been. And that kind of goes along with the, you know, emphasis that Trudeau and the Liberal government has put on climate change. Again, some of those who are in the agricultural sector, oil and gas, even manufacturing to a certain degree, kind of feel like their jobs are on the on the chopping block, which is a bit scary and certainly does induce anxiety for people.
Jordan: With all that said, especially in rural Saskatchewan. I think most of Canada is banking on that being blue and and, and a lot of the polls I’ve seen are banking on all of Alberta and all of Saskatchewan being blue. Are there any places in the province where Canadians should be watching for, I guess, an upset or in other places. incumbents to retain their seat unexpectedly.
Stephanie: Yeah, so certainly there are writings to watch. But I think you kind of summarize it nicely. That’s the question for Saskatchewan. The selection is like, how much more conservative will we go? So right now 10 out of the 14 seats are how held by the conservatives. You know, in the last federal election, the NDP kind of broke through for the first time in like over a decade with three seats. One of those belong to Aaron Weir he was ousted by the NDP over kind of harassment allegations and his response to that that’s according to saying, and the lone liberal in Saskatchewan through all of the last four years has been Ralph Goodell he was public safety minister. He’s held his writing in Regina since 1993. And this year, the conservative certainly feel like they have a real chance of ousting him. They are running a candidate by the name of Michael cram he ran in 2015 in 2015, Robin good HDB Michael cramp. I’m more than like 10,000 votes, which is like a landslide back that writing. But the conservatives really feel that they have a shot this time around. And I mean, Trudeau and the Liberal government is not popular in Saskatchewan. So the question is, well, how have Ralph good ale or even before Trudeau necessarily, but how is Ralph Goodale has have been able to sustain the sea for hope for as long as he has. And I think the sense is that people are voting for Ralph, but because during these past four years, were anger towards auto has really been building. Ralph Goodell has kind of been dragged into or been the blame has kind of been redirected at him in some ways. He’s kind of seen as like, you know, the guy who’s Trudeau’s right hand man when it comes to anything, it’s this catch one, right? He’s, he’s the one who is representing the face of the carbon tax and all of these kind of energy policies. So I would say that’s her writing to certainly be watching, you know, can Ralph Goodell hold on to this for yet another four years, when there’s been such a concerted effort to kind of get him out and such an anger towards his boss really, another interesting riding is the Far North. That’s kind of the only, I guess some people would assume or gas or characterize as the three way race right now that seat is held by the NDP, but the liberals are running Tammy cook serious and she’s a long time respected indigenous chief here. And the conservatives are running the former mayor of a city up north. So that riding has kind of since 2004, been all three stripes, which is kind of rare for Saskatchewan to have a party to have a writing that it’s changed that much. So that one is going to be interesting to see who kind of leads the way and where the votes go. It’s also just geographically a massive variety and it goes from basically the middle of the province all the way up to the Northwest Territories.
Jordan: So finally then, I guess, for those of us in Toronto, We are but in other places of the country that don’t have much to do with Western Canada, what would help us understand how voters in Saskatchewan are thinking on election night? What should What should we take away and keep in mind when we’re watching the returns?
Stephanie: I think it’s important that people who have never either visited Saskatchewan or lived here. Remember how a lot of people live in Saskatchewan that this is a province that is primarily rural. We’re a population of like 1.1 million people, you know, our largest city of Saskatoon with some 270,000 people for Dinah’s, you know another 200,000 something but that kind of leaves the rest of the population to live in predominantly small rural area. So this is a place that has kind of a small town flavour to it almost anywhere you go. And unlike in larger cities where you know, you’re kind of a few generations Say out from the farm, you don’t necessarily know someone who works in oil and gas or works in manufacturing says catch was just small enough that everybody still kind of has that connection to it right? It doesn’t, you know, doesn’t take long to kind of drive and to say like move cement or way burn in southeast Iowa and or, you know Prince Albert, which is one of our smaller cities and walk around and meet someone who’s grown up on the farm whose parents owned a farm or they themselves are farmers. And there is a real connection to how people in rural parts of Saskatchewan live. And so when people wonder, you know, how can people in Saskatchewan really dislike the federal liberals when Justin Trudeau has say bought them a pipeline for bought Canada pipeline for $4.5 billion? He seems pretty into it. There are people out here who know people who’ve lost their jobs or who have a real sense of anxiety that, you know, where’s my next paycheck going to come from? Or is this industry that has been really good to me? Are they going Is this industry going to be around to be good to my family? And how can these people in other parts of the country be making decisions about my life and what gets puts money in my pocket when they’ve never even really been here? Or they don’t seem sympathetic or to even understand how, like life on the farm, really work? So I think it’s remembering the anger has to it comes from somewhere. And it comes from a certain perspective. And I think, you know, if the conservatives kind of NAB this election, there’s going to be a challenge for Andrew sheer that a lot of the anger towards the federal liberals that frustration is still possibly going to exist in terms of will Andrew shear be able to deliver on promises to get more pipelines built? What’s going to happen to the plan to kind of phase out coal, which is affecting kind of corners of this province and people’s jobs and people’s livelihood. So that’s kind of what I would say to that.
Jordan: Stephanie. Thank you. you for your time today.
Stephanie: Thank you.
Jordan: Stephanie Taylor, the Saskatchewan correspondent for The Canadian Press. That was the Big Story, another episode in our Lay of the Land series. If you’d like them all, head to our website, thebigstorypodcast.ca and click the button at the top that says lay of the land. You can also talk to us about it on Twitter @thebigstoryfpn and you can find us and all of the other Frequency podcasts and other podcasts as well that we don’t make wherever you get podcasts on Apple, on Google, on Stitcher, or on Spotify or on any other podcast app you might have. Thanks for listening. I’m Jordan Heath Rawlings will talk tomorrow.
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