Wyant says Trudeau un­fair to sug­gest prov­ince won’t sign deal

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - CITY+REGION - ALEX MacPHER­SON amacpher­son@post­media.com

The Saskatchewan gov­ern­ment is cry­ing foul af­ter Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau in­tro­duced an un­signed in­fra­struc­ture fund­ing deal worth al­most $1 bil­lion over 11 years into the on­go­ing fed­eral-pro­vin­cial spat over cli­mate change and car­bon pric­ing.

Saskatchewan is the only prov­ince that hasn’t yet signed a bi­lat­eral agree­ment with Ot­tawa in­tended to guide the de­liv­ery of $896 mil­lion, an­nounced last sum­mer and ear­marked for a wide range of ma­jor in­fra­struc­ture projects over the next 11 years.

But deputy pre­mier Gord Wyant said it was un­fair for Trudeau to sug­gest the Saskatchewan gov­ern­ment is re­fus­ing to play ball with Ot­tawa over in­fra­struc­ture fund­ing. He said he’s con­fi­dent he’ll be able to com­mit to sign­ing a deal within about two weeks.

“The prov­ince of Saskatchewan has never said, ‘We’re not sign­ing this agree­ment,’ ” said Wyant, who last month be­came the min­is­ter re­spon­si­ble for SaskBuilds, the pro­vin­cial Crown cor­po­ra­tion tasked with manag­ing ma­jor in­fra­struc­ture projects.

Part of the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s $180-bil­lion In­vest­ing in Canada plan, Saskatchewan’s share in­cludes $416 mil­lion for green in­fra­struc­ture projects, $307.8 mil­lion for pub­lic tran­sit, $115.9 mil­lion for ru­ral and north­ern projects, and $56.2 mil­lion for recre­ational projects.

The fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s in­fra­struc­ture plan is sep­a­rate from its car­bon-pric­ing pro­posal.

Asked about western alien­ation stoked by a con­tro­ver­sial cli­mat­e­change plan and the stalled Trans Moun­tain pipe­line ex­pan­sion, Trudeau ap­peared to sug­gest the Saskatchewan gov­ern­ment was re­fus­ing to sign the agree­ment to de­liver the money.

“We have $900 mil­lion al­lo­cated at the fed­eral level for in­vest­ing in in­fra­struc­ture here in Saskatchewan. … The only thing we’re wait­ing for is for the prov­ince to ac­tu­ally step up and sign the bi­lat­eral agree­ment,” Trudeau told re­porters in Saska­toon on Thurs­day.

Pressed on why Saskatchewan has taken longer than any other prov­ince to strike a deal, Wyant pointed to Saskatchewan’s “unique” needs and said the gov­ern­ment wanted to en­sure flex­i­bil­ity of the var­i­ous fund­ing pools.

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