REGINA – The Saskatchewan legislature returns for its fall sitting on Wednesday. Here are five things to watch:
CARBON TAX AND PIPELINES — The federal carbon tax and Trans-Mountain pipeline expansion are sure to be a topic of debate for both the government and Opposition NDP. Saskatchewan is asking its Court of Appeal to rule on whether the carbon tax is unconstitutional. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Ottawa will return 90 per cent of the money it collects from a carbon tax to Canadians. The province has argued its climate change plan is enough to reduce emissions and a carbon tax would hurt the Saskatchewan economy. Premier Scott Moe has also pressed Ottawa to get the pipeline built. Opposition Leader Ryan Meili says Moe has spent too much time blaming others about the carbon tax. Meili recently promised an incentive for people to conserve energy that would see the province help pay up-front for energy-saving upgrades.
NO MORE CAMP — A camp outside the legislature protesting racial injustice and the disproportionate number of Indigenous children in care is gone following a court order in early September. Moe never visited the camp and his government said in a letter to protesters after a July meeting that it has already taken action on many of the group’s concerns. The Opposition says there continues to be a huge gap in health, education and justice in the province. Meili says everybody is losing because of the inequality. The protest campers have filed an appeal of the court order.
TRESPASS REVIEW — The province is reviewing its trespass legislation to see if the rules should change to make them more effective. An online questionnaire received 2,000 responses which the Ministry of Justice is currently reviewing. Government was looking for feedback on whether people should be required to ask landowners in advance for permission whenever going onto private land. Earlier this year, a jury found Saskatchewan farmer Gerald Stanley not guilty of second-degree murder in the death of Colten Boushie. Boushie was killed after being shot in the head on Stanley’s farm near Biggar in August 2016. Meili says rural crime is a real issue but there also needs to be a look at the root of the problem such as poverty and growing drug use.
NDP MOMENTUM — The next provincial election isn’t scheduled until fall of 2020, but the Opposition NDP gained some more momentum over the summer with its third-straight urban byelection win. Yens Pedersen won the Regina-Northeast seat previously held by the government. The Sask. Party still dominates the house with 48 out of 61 seats. Preparation for the next election has already begun with billboards and nominee selections for both parties.
GTH SCANDAL — Despite the RCMP announcing in July that it wouldn’t lay any charges in a controversial provincial government land deal, GTH isn’t going away just yet. Crown corporation Global Transportation Hub purchased a chunk of land west of Regina in 2015 for what critics say was three times the appraised value. The corporation then sold some of the land for half the purchase price. Attorney General Don Morgan has dismissed the need for an inquiry, but the NDP isn’t letting go. Critic Cathy Sproule is renewing a call for a judicial inquiry into the deal.
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