Saskatchewan has gone from 13 representatives on the government side of the House of Commons to just one.
But that one is Ralph Goodale, in Regina-Wascana, who last week won his eighth straight campaign and is destined for a top cabinet post.
He has already served in agriculture, finance, public works and other portfolios. He is the only MP elected Oct. 19 who served in the Pierre Trudeau government and will now serve under his son, prime minister-elect Justin Trudeau.
Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall, who supported the Conservative party’s economic promises, said Goodale’s election is key. He had already spoken to Goodale the morning after the vote.
“The member (the Liberals) elected is one of significant influence with the new government,” Wall told reporters when commenting on the election result.
He said Saskatchewan people would now want partisan considerations cast aside and the province properly represented in Ottawa.
“Mr. Goodale would certainly be at the top of the list in ensuring that relationship is strong,” Wall said.
The premier said the new government should move quickly to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal and get pipelines approved and built.
Wall said Canada must be part of the TPP because the 12 countries that signed the deal earlier this month represent 70 percent of the province’s export market.
“It’s very crucial for agriculture in our province,” Wall said.
He said the province was well represented under the Conservatives by agriculture minister Gerry Ritz, Ritz’s work on trade files, particularly beef, will be missed.
“But Mr. Goodale is there. He may not be the agriculture minister but he understands Saskatchewan issues, and I think he’ll be a voice for those, whether or not he’s on a particular file,” Wall said.
Goodale said he appreciated Wall’s encouragement.
“I think the important thing here is to make sure that Saskatchewan has a real presence in the new government and that we have our issues clearly articulated and put forward in an effective manner,” he said, noting he’s done it before and looks forward to that responsibility again.
He said he is anxious to see the full scope of the TPP and for Canadians to see it, too.
He said doubts, suspicions and rumours developed because the Conservatives kept mum on the details.
“Until we actually see the text, you can’t make a solid judgment about whether it’s been well negotiated or not,” he said.
Goodale said there are questions around ratification after U.S. presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton suggested that might not happen.
“Of course, if the Americans don’t ratify, then the whole thing falls apart,” Goodale said.
He said the situation is similar to the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with Europe, which he described as “concluded, but not really.”
Goodale said the legal text is still in doubt, and translations and ratifications are still in progress.
“And when we get into the fine print, we find that the rhetoric about the deal is not exactly the same as what was written down.”
He said one example was the praise for major new access for beef, which turned out to be only non-hormone beef, which Canada couldn’t fill under previous quota.
Another is canola. There is more access under CETA but only for the industrial market and not the food market.
Goodale also said he is anxious to see the results of the Canadian Transportation Act review and to talk to the provinces about how to better manage water and soil resources and what infrastructure is needed to do that.
“And there are some important issues around investment in research that we would want to see included in budgets,” he said.