June 12, 2024

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Mandryk: Moe’s GHG remark solidifies his view economy is the priority

Mandryk: Moe’s GHG remark solidifies his view economy is the priority

For Moe to boldly pronounce “I don’t care” about having Canada’s highest GHG emissions pretty much tells both sides all they need to know.

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When it comes to Saskatchewan significantly lowering its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, it’s more of a matter of what Premier Scott Moe really cares about rather than what he doesn’t care about.

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What he cares about is the economic advantage this province might have in marketing our farming and resource extraction industries as among the cleanest on the planet.

That said, for Moe to boldly pronounce “I don’t care” about having Canada’s highest per capita GHG emissions pretty much tells both sides all they need to know.

If Moe was inclined to choose his words more carefully — or, better put, felt obliged to do so — he would have completely avoided a phrase as divisive as “I don’t care.”

That’s what most politicians would have done.

That’s what smart business people would have also done, given a fundamental tenet in selling is presenting your product in the the most positive context while not offending anyone.

But with a massive Saskatchewan Party majority government largely built on opposing anything the federal Liberal government stands for, including Justin Trudeau’s carbon tax, Moe feels no such compulsion.

Instead, he doubled down Monday on his seemingly callous “I don’t care” assessment of Saskatchewan’s nation-leading GHG emissions.

“I’ll stand with the ‘I don’t care’ right now when it comes to the metrics of per-capita emissions,” Moe, a one-time environment minister, told reporters after not addressing his comments in Monday’s question period when raised by the NDP.

“Could have I chosen something a little less controversial? Potentially.”

Potentially? You think?

More likely, a polling-obsessed Sask. Party government saw this as an opportunity to solidify support among those terrified that further environmental restrictions translate into the loss of good-paying Saskatchewan jobs in oil, mining and farming.

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“A lot of folks will come to me and say: ‘Hey guys, you have the highest carbon emission per capita,’ ” Moe told reporters Monday, repeating his words to the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce in Prince Albert on Friday. “I said: ‘I don’t care.’

“I went on to say: We have the highest exports per capita in Canada as well. We make the cleanest products and we then send those products to over 150 countries in the world. This province is, most certainly, part of the solution when it comes to a cleaner, greener economy. We’re part of your solution to your energy security concerns. And we’re part of your solution when it comes to food security concerns countries may have.”

As such, Moe’s “I don’t care” comment mostly distracted from his more substantive message that Saskatchewan’s agri-food, potash, uranium and oil industries provide “some of lowest carbon emissions you will find in world.”

“As we find our way through a time of transition, you should be buying Saskatchewan oil,” Moe said, urging people to compare Saskatchewan commodities with those produced in Russia and Belarus. “That’s my point to not only the people of Saskatchewan but to people across the nation.

“Most certainly, this would be the narrative. We would ask our federal government to take with them as they go overseas to promote and sell some of cleanest products available to the world.”

It’s a more complete explanation, albeit one that still won’t endear Moe to environmentalists.

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“I think it’s pretty clear from their lack of action in regards to climate change that they don’t care,” said Emily Eaton, an associate geography and environmental studies professor at the University of Regina.

Saskatchewan’s GHG emissions in 2019 dropped by single megatonne from the previous year, meaning that this province, with four per cent of the Canadian population, still accounts for 10.3 per cent of the country’s overall GHG emissions.

Monday, Moe described this fact as “ridiculous,”  and having “no bearing on reality.”

For a premier who talked in February about healing divisions, his comments weren’t exactly an olive branch to those who say Saskatchewan isn’t doing enough to reduce the nation’s highest GHG emissions.

They are only left with Moe’s blunt message: “I don’t care.”

Mandryk is the political columnist for the Regina Leader-Post and the Saskatoon StarPhoenix.

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