The president of the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities is feeling “generally optimistic” ahead of the group’s annual trip to Ottawa this week to discuss the province’s rural issues.
Ray Orb said given the recent hold on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion SARM will make a point to be vocal with the federal government about their backing of Energy East.
“We don’t believe that oil should be travelling as much as it is on rail,” he explained. “It takes away crews and the engine power, et cetera, from the railroads. We believe they should be hauling grain – not crude oil.”
Rural crime will also be a focus on the four-day trip.
Orb said SARM will throw its support behind Alberta Conservative MP Shannon Stubbs’ March motion for a federal study on rural crime across the country.
“I think the federal government needs to do a holistic look at what’s happening all across Canada, not only in one province. I think, perhaps, then they’ll be able to allocate the necessary RCMP officers that we need in Saskatchewan,” he explained, adding they’ll be lobbying for more police in rural areas as well.
A meeting is also set with the Pest Management Regulatory Agency of Health Canada to discuss the potential ban of strychnine, the pesticide used to kill ground squirrels. Orb noted he’ll be asking the feds to widen the consultation period before outlawing it.
“That way people can get their message, their points across about why we on the Prairies — especially here in Saskatchewan — need strychnine.”
While in the nation’s capital, Orb added SARM will also try to arrange a meeting with federal environment minister Catherine McKenna to reinforce the disdain many Saskatchewan producers have for the carbon tax.
SARM has meetings planned until Thursday with both the Liberals and the opposition Conservatives.