Imagine a 150 year old boulder sitting on the corner of your front yard. It does not affect anyone whether it is there or not aside from being an eye sore and occasionally getting in the way.
It provides no benefit or no real detriment either except making your lawn a little more challenging to cut occasionally. This boulder has sat in your yard, large and heavy, for many years and no one has attempted to do anything about it. One day you decide to remove the boulder once and for all, in order to clean up what should have been dealt with long ago.
You start up the tractor and get the chain wrapped tightly around the boulder, yet all of a sudden, a cloud of dust emerges from down the road and the faint sound of sirens can be heard in the distance.
A little red car with “Trudeau Liberals” painted down the side appears out of the dust and screeches to a halt beside you, demanding that you stop what you are doing immediately. This is what our Saskatchewan caucus colleagues experienced during an attempt to amend a longstanding piece of constitutional red tape that lends special tax considerations to a highly profitable corporation.
It is no secret that the Trudeau Liberals have struggled mightily on Saskatchewan soil in recent years, and messages continue to be sent to the province that the current government has no plans or intentions to change that. Unsurprising as that is following continued policy decisions that undermine prairie people, what is surprising is the astonishing lack of effort we now see to even hide it.
With a longstanding constitutional provision still present that granted tax exemption to Canadian Pacific Railway as it built its way across our great nation in the early years of confederation, the undeniably common-sense thing to do now is to remove it. Ensuring that a longstanding and profitable corporation does not receive any special treatment based on a century and a half old technicality is something that should invite unified support across all parties and representatives. Instead, the unanimous consent motion that we brought forward to the floor of The House to remove the tax exemption for Canadian Pacific was blocked by a Liberal government intent on playing partisan games.
As a legislative initiative that originated in the Saskatchewan Legislature (that was passed unanimously by Members of their Legislative Assembly), allowing this motion would have given the current federal government the opportunity to respect the jurisdiction of the province and afford Saskatchewan the right to unilaterally amend its own constitution. This is not an unprecedented course of action either as both Alberta and British Columbia have previously amended their own constitutions. Instead, this government has shown once again that they either do not care about the wishes of Saskatchewan people, or are too proud to concede on a piece of work put forward by opposition members that eliminates an unnecessary legislative relic of the past.
This effort was a relatively simple gesture with a singular intention of ensuring that Saskatchewan people are not stuck with the burden of paying even one cent of tax revenue that should have come from a large corporation because of an outdated provision. Instead, an arbitrary political decision was made to undermine this effort. Evidently, no seats to be won, means no support to be had from the Trudeau Liberal government.
Warren Steinley is the MP for Regina-Lewvan