Western angst, oil and gas and the Wall

At the Agri-Food Innovations Council (AIC) policy conference in Saskatoon Brad Wall, former Saskatchewan premier, was asked what can be done to improve relationships between the federal government and people living in Saskatchewan and Alberta.

Wall’s remedies began with having the federal government recognize the carbon plans of Alberta and Saskatchewan and not impose the carbon tax.

The Trans Mountain Expansion Project (TMX) is another of his conditions to amend this relationship, but the legal firm Wall works for, Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP, represents Kinder Morgan and TMX and he said he’s confident the pipeline will be built.

Saskatchewan and Alberta shouldn’t bother to try to change the federal equalization payment formula, he said, because “we have an un-amendable constitution” in the country, so this would be a waste of time.

However, the federal government could give Saskatchewan and Alberta an equalization rebate because there are rules that allow this.

To help improve relations, Wall said the federal government could use this rebate to provide Saskatchewan and Alberta money to clean up abandoned oil wells.

Wall didn’t mention any help for agriculture, even though his populous-powerbase continues to be in rural and agricultural areas in the Prairies, and it’s been a tough year for farmers.

The topic of the AIC event was robotics and machine learning in agriculture, which would likely be a better place to invest appeasement money than further oil and gas subsidies.

As would plant protein processing facilities, irrigation projects, trade missions, plant breeding, rail modernization, money for municipalities, and rebates for on-farm solar systems.

As a representative of Osler, which represents many Canadian oil companies that would likely welcome federal dollars to clean up oil wells, Wall’s job now is to further their interests.

It can be hard to remember he isn’t Saskatchewan’s spokesperson anymore.

When you hear people drumming up western alienation sentiment, take a hard look at who they think should get paid to ease this relationship.

If the dollars aren’t going to land in your pockets, they just might be trying to rile you up in order to further their own interests.

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