Jobs represent the well-being of constituents, which should be the foremost concern of any local elected official.
But jobs are also something that fall within the jurisdiction of local politicians and sticking to what is in your purview is an important, and often overlooked, aspect of governance.
If you think about it, this is why global warming initiatives are failing.
By definition, global warming is a “global issue,” not an issue for local or provincial or even federal politicians to handle.
Maybe this is precisely why we are struggling mightily to get a handle on the matter.
So it isn’t surprising the Saskatchewan Party government is prioritizing good-paying jobs in its fight against the federal carbon tax.
Of course, there is also the Sask. Party argument that the federal government’s carbon tax isn’t actually an effective way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, anyway.
We remain a resource-based economy where the burning of fossil fuel — be it for farming, mining, manufacturing or the oil sector — is a necessity. Pricing carbon might not change our way of life, but it will surely make it more expensive, something the federal government doesn’t seem to get.
Irritating to many in this sparsely populated, rural, agrarian part of the country, is the fact it’s not simply a case of using more public transportation to reduce our fossil fuel consumption. We still need fuel for the very machinery that drives our economy.
And a big part of that economy is fossil fuel itself.
Finally, our source of electricity is mostly fuelled by coal.
Sure, there have been efforts to move away from coal, which is a good thing. One such initiative towards less GHG emission output is SaskPower’s 350-megawatt natural gas Chinook Power Station near Swift Current.
Such initiatives even demonstrate how there may be a few other jobs to be found in the economy other than the traditional work in this province.
But all this takes us back to the job question, and perhaps the need for the Sask. Party government to take a look at job issues from a more fulsome perspective.
Let’s accept that the carbon tax fight is about preserving jobs (with, of course, a little politics thrown in, as was evident in the recent visit by Ontario Progressive Conservative Premier Doug Ford).
And let’s also accept this is an important fight, as the monthly job statistics for the province seem to indicate.
The latest Saskatchewan job statistics for September show a slight increase of 3,300 more people working from September 2017.
However, that good news was tempered by a rise in unemployment as well, the notion that Alberta seems to be recovering more quickly and that the economists for RBC are describing Saskatchewan’s job recovering as “surprisingly weak.”
Given this situation, the Sask. Party government is obligated to do what it can to ensure good-paying jobs are available to workers in this province.
But consider this in the context of NDP Opposition concerns that most of the 640 construction workers at the Swift Current Chinook work site seem to be from out of province.
“The procurement process is not working as it should," said NDP Leader Ryan Meili.
One gets that interprovincial trade agreements like the New West Partnership makes it more difficult for provinces to place restrictions on out-of-province contractors.
But remember, a year ago this Sask. Party was eager to tax out-of-province licence plates at Saskatchewan job sites in retaliation to unproven allegations that the Alberta government was engaging in similar favouritism.
Shouldn’t the Saskatchewan government be as vigilant about protecting existing jobs as it is about losing future jobs to a carbon tax?
After all, that’s what provincial politicians are supposed to do.