Trudeau victory good for Sask.: prof Goodwill may ease approvals

Posted on October 22, 2015 in

Trudeau victory good for Sask.: prof Goodwill may ease approvals
Canadian flag waving with Parliament Buildings hill and Library in the background

His name may linked to the ill-fated National Energy Program, but Justin Trudeau is not his father – and the newly-elected Liberal government could be good news for Saskatchewan’s resource economy, says a Johnson-Shoyama School of Public Policy professor.

“I think overall it’s actually extremely good news for Saskatchewan,” Greg Poelzer said. “It’s probably the best possible outcome.”

Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party of Canada campaigned on a platform of investment in infrastructure, increased environmental controls and support for some oil pipelines. On Monday night, they wrested control from Stephen Harper’s Conservative

Party by winning 184 seats.

Poelzer said he thinks Trudeau’s commitment to protecting the environment by reducing carbon dioxide emissions will repair Canada’s reputation abroad and generate the goodwill necessary to get “crucial” pipelines such as Energy East and Keystone XL approved. The Liberals’ plan to introduce carbon pollution pricing will help, he added. “We’ve got to be showing that we’re taking real, concrete steps as a country and as a province in terms of reducing our CO2 footprint.” At the same time, the Liberal leader’s understanding of the west – enhanced by veteran MP and former Liberal finance minister Ralph Goodale, who was re-elected in Regina-Wascana on Monday – means it’s unlikely Saskatchewan will suffer, Poelzer said.

Trudeau’s interest in the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, an international trade agreement linking 12 Pacific Rim countries, could also benefit the province’s increasingly diverse economy, he added.

“Of course time will tell over the next four years if words translate into deeds,”

Poelzer said. “But I think we have very good reason to be optimistic.”

The CEO of the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce takes a similarly upbeat view, noting that the stability offered by a majority government combined with Goodale’s impressive clout within the party is “fabulous” news for Saskatchewan.

“(Goodale) knows the province well, he knows our energy, he knows our manufacturing, our agricultural industries exceptionally well, and I think we’ll be well-served,” Steve McLellan said.

While some of the challenges facing Saskatchewan’s economy – volatile oil prices chief among them – are beyond the control of any government, the Liberal party can strengthen Saskatchewan’s economy by repairing relations with First Nations and increasing aboriginal engagement, McLellan said.

“If we see through this new federal government significant enhancement in the engagement, the lifestyle and the prosperity of our aboriginal community in this province, that’s a huge step forward for Saskatchewan people,” he said.

Keith Moen, executive director of the North Saskatoon Business Association, dismissed concerns that the Liberal party would return to an Ontario-and Quebec-centric economic plan – “they’ve learned from (the) past,” he said – but expressed caution about making pronouncements too soon.

“It’s very early on into his mandate, and we’re going to have to wait and see what transpires from his days in office, in power,” Moen said.

At the same time, the Liberal Party’s interest in the Trans-Pacific Partnership and promise to increase infrastructure investment by running three consecutive deficits are encouraging, he said.

“What (Trudeau) said in his acceptance speech is exactly almost word-for-word what Brad Wall was saying in his acceptance speech in 2007: hope beating fear,” Moen said. “Provincially, things have worked out fairly well for business since that time. Perhaps there can be a repeat federally as well.”

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