Scott Moe calling for more provincial autonomy for Saskatchewan.


In a push for more provincial autonomy to develop its natural resources, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says he could follow Quebec’s lead and make unilateral changes to the Constitution.

Moe released a white paper this week — titled “Drawing the Line: Defending Saskatchewan’s Economic Autonomy” — detailing how he stands ready to fight what he calls federal government intrusion and interference in provincial jurisdiction over of natural resources.

The premier says the next step is to introduce legislation to “clarify and protect the constitutional rights belonging to the province,” with more details expected in his next Speech from the Throne on Oct. 26.

And while University of Saskatchewan political studies professor Daniel Westlake told CTV News Saskatoon that could involve securing approval from the federal government and seven provinces to amend the Constitution, Moe told CTV’s Question Period that he could follow Quebec Premier Francois Legault’s lead and make “unilateral” changes. to the Constitution.

Legault’s CAQ government passed Bill 96 in May 2021, which, among other controversial measures, amended part of the Constitution to affirm that Quebec is its own nation with French as its official language. At the same time, the Legault government used the notwithstanding clause to shield Bill 96 from legal challenges under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“Any constitutional change that might be needed would be similar to what we saw in how Quebec recently unilaterally amended the Constitution, which the Prime Minister said was fine, they could do that,” said Moe on CTV’s Question Period, in an interview that aired Sunday. “So we consider that if there are unilateral changes that need to happen with the Constitution as we move forward, we do it the same way.”

He said there was “plenty of room” for provinces to push for more autonomy from the federal government and “reassert their provincial jurisdiction,” particularly with natural resource development.

Moe added that where Quebec’s unilateral amendment to the Constitution was allowed because it only affected Quebec, he believes the same rule would apply to Saskatchewan, as he “would expect [Saskatchewan] would have the same right because we are all equal partners in this area.

Meanwhile, Moe has been criticized for his lack of consultation with Indigenous communities when drafting the white paper, particularly by the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN), which represents 74 First Nations in Saskatchewan.

A statement from the FSIN calls Moe’s plan a “violation of the inherent and treaty rights of First Nations.”

“The Prime Minister must do better and he must fulfill his obligations to First Nations before developing plans that will undoubtedly impact our nation,” FSIN Vice Chief Heather Bear wrote. , in the press release.

Moe said the town halls held across the province in preparation for the white paper did not consult with any community leader, municipality, business group, company or Indigenous leader, but rather individuals under those umbrellas.

Moe also said the timing of her white paper’s release had nothing to do with Danielle Smith being Alberta’s next premier. Smith was elected leader of the United Conservative Party of Alberta on October 6, after campaigning extensively on her Alberta sovereignty bill.

The law, if passed, would give the Alberta legislature the power to ignore federal laws it deems contrary to Alberta’s best interests. But Moe said his push for more autonomy from the federal government is outside of Smith’s promises to do the same.

With files from Laura Woodward of CTV News Saskatoon