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Saskatchewan Party Disappoints Landowners on Property Rights

Published in November, 2018

Minister Eyre: 'Deregulation is good for Ottawa, but not for Saskatchewan'

By Dave Core

Late this summer I had the opportunity to meet Bronwyn Eyre, Saskatchewan's Minister of Mines and Resources.

We were both speaking at a major media event promoting Enbridge's Line 3 Replacement Project, (L3RP), "the first pipeline project built to spec for landowners.

As a result of Minister Eyre's professed enthusiasm for L3RP and its landowner-friendly approach to doing business,  I thought it might be a good idea to get the CAEPLA team together with her to discuss some property rights related issues currently facing Saskatchewan.

So CEO Annette Shinborn, CAEPLA board member and surface rights advocate Stephanie Fradette and I were booked into see the Minister last week.

The goal as always was to discuss ways the landowner industry relationship can be improved through respect for property rights, less regulation and greater reliance on voluntary, market based solutions.

We had barely exchanged pleasantries when Minister Eyre threw up her hands and preempted any productive dialogue.

“With the shape the oil and gas industry is in and with the price differential problems, because of the lack of market access, this was not the time for any discussions of changing the Surface Rights Act,” she proclaimed.

Of course the price differential is a huge problem facing the oil patch and in fact the entire Canadian economy.  

Good Companies Sign Business Agreements With Landowners...

That is precisely why we wanted to pitch Minister Eyre on our property rights respecting approach -- the same, successful approach Enbridge has taken with L3RP.  

"There needs to be less regulation in resource management. The marketplace should determine which companies succeed, not government," Stephanie explained.

"It is the bad players that benefit from and use the Surface Rights Board and Right of Entry. The good and responsible companies sign business agreements with landowners and the Surface Rights Board never hears from them," she continued.

But the Minister didn't want to hear it.

Yes, that is what our consultant told us … that we need stronger regulatory teeth in Sask. We only think deregulation is important for the Federal liberals to adopt. In Sask., the Sask Party is in charge, you can trust us to make good regulations.

"She basically told us their consultants say we need more regulations in Saskatchewan and it would be a good idea for there to be fewer federal regulations.

"Her message to us was, 'the Saskatchewan Party is in charge. You can trust us to make good regulations,'" is how Stephanie summed up our meeting with Minister Eyre.

Naturally I agree and CAEPLA agrees that Ottawa needs to deregulate.  And regulators closer to home are more easily held accountable.

And we couldn't agree more that the landlocking of Canadian oil is an urgent economic crisis. But it seems the Saskatchewan Party wants landowners to sacrifice their property rights, to subsidize the energy industry, to carry bad companies through hard times.

But we were all puzzled by the confusing and contradictory comments from Minister Eyre. 

Less Red Tape in Ottawa and More in Regina?

How could a member of the Moe Government express so much support for a landowner friendly pipeline project and call a reduction in red tape at the federal level while simultaneously insisting on more government meddling with landowner-industry relations in Saskatchewan?

Although we left the Legislature a little disillusioned, it didn't take long to figure out what went wrong.

The next day I stumbled across a video premier Scott Moe posted to twitter the day we met with his Minister of Mines and Resources.

I urge you to take a few seconds and watch it.  Nicely done.  She says all the right things:  opposing the carbon tax, opposing the creation of a new, more onerous energy regulator, and eloquently expressing her desire for less "regulatory overkill."

Music to our ears. But too bad she just seems to be following a script, instead of expressing her government's own core values.  

If Minster Eyre and her government really believed what she was saying on the video, they would be welcoming ways to improve landowner industry relations. And they would be all for deregulation by Regina, not just Ottawa.

 

tags:  Saskatchewan Party, Saskatchewan, Surface Rights, property rights, landowners, pipeline landowners, pipelines, L3RP, energy, oil and gas, Western Canadian Select, oil prices, Bronwyn Eyre, Scott Moe