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Throne Speech Debate
(30 October 2017)

From Hansard - 30 October 2017

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Throne Speech Debate

Ms. Heppner: — Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I want to start this evening by welcoming the newest member to this Chamber, the member for Saskatoon Fairview, on her recent election. I had the opportunity to participate in a debate with her when she ran in 2016 and I found her to be quite capable and articulate and knowledgeable. And I am sure that her time will be well spent here. So I wanted to welcome her to this Chamber.

I also want to recognize the Premier and what he’s done for this province. I know that all of us take different paths to get to this Chamber. Mine was a little bit more solemn than others as I was running to replace, well I can’t replace my dad, but to fill the seat that he once occupied. And I want to thank the Premier specifically. I know that my dad and I share some tendencies, but the Premier was quick to recognize that I was definitely just me in my own right and allowing me to fulfill different roles that he gave me in my time here.

And I want to acknowledge as well, Mr. Speaker, the absolute dedication that he has to advancing our province and promoting us wherever he goes. He has been probably the fiercest champion that this province has ever seen, and he will be missed. I’m sure that collectively we can fulfill that role, but he did so much for us, Mr. Speaker, and I want to thank him for his time here. I know that being the leader of a party is a huge commitment and the Premier of this province is an enormous one, so thank you to him.

To the constituents who have sent me here, I want to thank them for their ongoing support. I’ve been here for ten and a half years and I get the sense that people are pretty happy at home. Our constituency office is not probably as busy as some. I had a lady phone in a couple of months ago because she was waiting on a donors list and was concerned about the time that she had been waiting. I’m happy to report that since then she’s had her procedure, and she’s doing very well. But in this Throne Speech, having the rate of organ donation increase through efforts that we can make in conjunction with the health regions just indicates to me that after 10 years of being in government we’re still doing things that the people of this province require, as this Throne Speech is filled with new ideas.

As everyone here understands and most people have spoken to, I want to thank my family. To my girls, who are now 20 and 23, and I don’t know where the time goes. They had the opportunity this summer to go to Europe on a five-week backpacking trip and I think they hit five different countries. I managed to sneak into London without them knowing and surprise them at a train station. There were many tears because they honestly didn’t know that I was coming, and I got to take them to Paris for three days. And so that was exciting for all of us. It was particularly exciting for them because I paid for all of that part of their trip, so they were pretty excited about that. But nonetheless we had a really good time and made some great memories and spent our last night there drinking wine under the Eiffel Tower. Their liquor laws are slightly more lax than ours; I will talk to my seatmate about that after my speech.

And to my fiancé, John, I want to thank him for his patience. Relationships are difficult coming into this job. I think they’re probably a little bit more difficult when they’re started within this job, and I’ve been gone for the majority of our relationship. So thank you to him for his patience. He’s a pretty exceptional guy.

I also want to thank the Premier for my new responsibilities as Minister of Energy and Resources. We don’t get to dictate what portfolios we’re given, but I secretly always wanted this one, and so I was pretty excited about getting about it. It’s hard to follow in the shoes of my colleague, the member for Weyburn-Big Muddy, because I know that he has a passion for this file, but I will do my best.

And shortly after I was named minister, I had the opportunity to go to Calgary and meet with industry folks and stakeholders and hear from them about their concerns, what’s going well for them, some of the challenges that they’re facing. And one of the things that I heard repeatedly is that they appreciated the consistency of how things were done in Saskatchewan. They knew what the rules were and could make their business plans accordingly. There’s uncertainty in other areas, but Saskatchewan, it was their perspective that things were going pretty well here and they certainly appreciated that.

And I think that many of us probably have some worries about what we’re seeing on the federal scene, whether it’s the Liberal government. We saw recently the cancellation of the Energy East project. I know that the federal Liberals like to say it was a business decision. Well of course it was a business decision, but it was a business decision based on changing of the rules in the NEB [National Energy Board] process which is completely under their purview. And it’s unfortunate these rules were changed for a pipeline that would have been so very important not just to Saskatchewan and Alberta but to our country as a whole.

I think there’s also concern with the new federal NDP [New Democratic Party] leader — I’ll get to that in a little bit — and his position on some of these things. And I’d be interested to know what his colleagues here, the NDP in Saskatchewan, feel about some of those positions and whether they will stand up for our province or stand up for their party because those right now are two completely different things. And that is a concern, Mr. Speaker.

So the recently elected leader of the federal NDP has been very public about his dislike, displeasure, non-support of pipelines in this country which is obviously concerning to us, Mr. Speaker. And one of the reasons that he said that he doesn’t like them is because it increases oil production and international exports of our products. Well what a horrible position to take, Mr. Speaker, that the problem with pipelines for him — one of the many reasons, I would imagine — is that it might actually increase our exports. I don’t know that that’s any way to grow our economy, but that would be NDP economics which is a little frightening.

And, Mr. Speaker, not only does he not like pipelines, he doesn’t like exports, doesn’t want production of oil and gas in this country. He actually went so far to say . . . I have a quote from a media interview he did just this August, August 21 of this year. And he said, “we know that certain technology . . .” And this was in direct response to oil and gas questions, not some other technology:

And we know that certain technology is finite and not sustainable. And to me it doesn’t make sense for us to make investments in technology that’s not going to be sustainable and create an economy that’s long-lasting.

We know that certain industries, while we’re heavily dependant on them now, aren’t going to be the industries of the future. So it doesn’t make sense for us to . . . [invest] in the technology that isn’t going to develop sustainable jobs for Canadians.

Well, Mr. Speaker, oil is in the ground; it’s coming up every day. And if he thinks that for some reason natural resources in this country are going to suddenly dry up so there’s no point in investing in them today, it’s completely erroneous.

There is a study recently . . . Excuse me, I’m losing my voice today. There was a study recently, a global energy forecast which between 2014 and 2040 . . . Obviously the consumption of global energy is going to go up. But what’s interesting, Mr. Speaker, is the actual makeup between natural gas, oil, nuclear, coal, and renewables, that mix actually doesn’t change. And that’s factoring in the commitments made under the Paris climate accord that recently took place. So even with all of those provisions factored in to what the future energy use globally is going to be, the mix with natural gas, oil, and coal, which are things that are produced in this province, in this country, will not change.

So then the question is, if we’re going to not invest in these technologies in our province and in our country, we’re not going to invest in pipelines or approve pipelines — the need for all of these energy sources does not change — so then the question becomes, where does it come from? It’s not going to come from Canada. It’s not going to come from Saskatchewan. It’s going to come from someplace else. So then where does it come from? Then we start importing things from places like Saudi Arabia. We export our jobs to other countries and forgo investment, technology opportunities, and jobs in our own country and our own province, Mr. Speaker.

So those are kind of the focus of both the federal NDP leader and the focus of the federal Liberal leader, is we’re going to phase out coal. We’re going to phase out oil sands. We’re not going to let pipelines be developed. And at what expense, Mr. Speaker? At the expense of this very province.

And so again it will be interesting to see what the position of our provincial NDP is going to be. Well, Mr. Speaker, we know some of their positions. And as both parties in this House are in the midst of leadership elections, so you know, people are talking. But before entering into the leadership race — or this current one because I think this is his third go at it — the member for Saskatoon Meewasin had co-written a paper talking about the phasing out of coal in our province. So again, Mr. Speaker, the NDP going after yet another industry.

And all of this is sort of backed on the premise of, it’s more environmentally friendly to not have these things. So if these people think that, at the end of the day, all of our energy is going to come from solar panels and windmills, they are sadly mistaken and they will . . . are now figuratively living in the dark. They will then be literally living in the dark because they’re not going to have the power supply to keep their lights on, Mr. Speaker.

So on the issue of the environment . . . And I’ve listened with great interest over the last few months because up until now we don’t really know where the NDP stand on environmental issues. They don’t have any plan for anything, although the member for Regina Rosemont has said previously that we need plans for all of these things. Well that’s all fine and good but they don’t really have one.

Except I think probably about, I don’t know, seven months ago, probably during the spring session, suddenly their new plan on the environment is to encourage us to implement the legislation that we introduced in 2009. That is now their environmental plan, which I find a little strange, considering, Mr. Speaker . . . Because I went back through the record just to make sure. I was the minister at the time, so I thought I was paying attention to what was going on in the House, so I went back just to double-check. The NDP voted against that legislation, all of them. It’s on division. It’s in the public record. And now the member for Saskatoon Nutana and some of her colleagues, I believe, are telling us that their environmental plan is to force us to implement legislation that we already introduced even though they’ve already voted against it, which I found quite interesting.

And even at their convention just this past weekend — and I won’t read the whole thing into the record, but I will read the end of it —one of their resolutions — it’s SC-02 — says:

Whereas the Sask Party’s own Green Technology Fund would protect us from having Ottawa force their tax on Saskatchewan families; whereas the Green Technology Fund has already been passed through the legislature; whereas The Conference Board of Canada has estimated that the Green Tech Fund would add billions to the economy and create thousands of jobs [which is interesting that they are so now promoting something that they voted against not so many years ago, ends with], be it further resolved that as a first step to fighting the federal carbon tax and climate change, the Saskatchewan NDP call on the Sask Party to implement their own Green Technology Fund that would make the biggest polluters pay for pollution they cause, invest and diversify in our economy, and create jobs.

So, Mr. Speaker, apparently that is their new environmental plan, and I find it interesting that this is all predicated on the fact that if we do this, a federal government can’t impose their own plan on us. So I’m going to go back to their new federal NDP leader who said not so very long ago in relation to what’s going on here with the economy and what’s going on with the federal government, he said, and I quote, “Well Brad Wall has now resigned, so that’s going to be easier to bring a carbon tax on Saskatchewan.”

So what exactly is their position? And I haven’t heard one of them say anything against their leader’s position. All I’ve heard so far from them about Mr. Singh is the interim Leader of the Opposition in an interview with a Moose Jaw outlet recently, praising, almost gleeful at his election as their new leader. Well I would hope that they would be slightly more gleeful about the future of our province than this man who wants to shut down every resource that our province has so that they can then implement a federal carbon tax on our province because that’s what their party stands for, Mr. Speaker. And I would expect that they would be standing up for our province and not standing up for their party, but we haven’t seen that from them, Mr. Speaker.

So all we’ve seen from them is just a complete void of inspiration for anything new. We see that with their leadership race where they have not just an also-ran, but an also-also-ran. We saw that again at their convention this weekend. The only proposals they have is to take us back to undo a bunch of stuff. There is no new ideas in any of their proposals, just a regurgitation of what we’ve heard from them in this Chamber for the last 10 years.

So, Mr. Speaker, after 10 years of waiting for the NDP to come up with some new ideas, all we see in this Chamber is what we saw in the election in 2007, and we know what the people of this province decided to do then. We saw a tired NDP, no new ideas, no vision for our province, for our future versus a Saskatchewan Party. And after 10 years, looking at this Throne Speech, 10 years later still bringing new ideas to the table, Mr. Speaker, ideas that are reflected in the people that we talk to every day, as I mentioned at the beginning of my remarks, for the lady who was looking for increased effectiveness in the organ donor program, Mr. Speaker, and it remains that way today.

And I would imagine three years from now when we go back to the polls, the people of this province will see exactly the same thing that they saw in 2007. They can have the same old, same old from the old NDP, Mr. Speaker, or an inspired vision for our province with new ideas from this side of the House.

So, Mr. Speaker, I will not be supporting the amendment. I will be supporting our government and this Throne Speech.

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