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Congratulations to Dr. Ryan Meili on his election as Leader of the NDP and Leader of the Official Opposition. This is Dr. Meili's 3rd run at the leadership of the NDP so this obviously shows that he is committed to getting things done. You've heard me say many times in this commentary that our government is only as good as the opposition allows it to be.

Many of the failings of the Sask Party government over the last ten years have resulted from a weak NDP opposition.  Dr. Meili comes from good farming stock and started out life on the farm 50 miles southwest of Moose Jaw.  He is a medical doctor so when you put those two attributes together, you should come up with a person who is not afraid to put in the work and time to get things done.

I may not agree with some of his approaches to public policy but I think like everyone else in Saskatchewan, we will be very curious about Dr. Meili's vision for the future.  When he said during the beginnings of his leadership quest that he would not take donations from unions and corporations, a lot of folks figured he would go nowhere.  He has proved to his own political party that you can be successful without the influence of big money and I think the rest of us in Saskatchewan, regardless of our political stripe, need to think about his example of telling big money where to go.

On another note, our American President is once again taking shots at the Canadian economy by imposing large tariffs on manufactured steel and aluminum.  For Saskatchewan, that means IPSCO and it also means the cost of pipe for pipelines which are so important to our economy.

A few months ago, I made the comment that Donald Trump was rubbing his hands in glee over the approval of the Keystone Pipeline.  This pipeline was originally designed to take Canadian heavy crude to the US Gulf Coast refineries.  It will do this at a significant discount to Canadian oil.  It is then upgraded and manufactured into many products which are used domestically and exported.  The United States recently removed all restrictions on the export of crude oil and its various derivatives.  The Americans are now exporting oil to twenty different countries.   

I remember well the discussions around the first North American Free Trade Agreement.  One of the keys to that agreement was the ability of the United States to access Canadian oil at the same price that Canadians paid for it.  If you remember, Canada had a two-priced system prior to NAFTA.  A domestic price and an export price.  Western Canada hated two-priced oil. 

Today, Canadians pay more and Americans pay significantly less.  We supply them with a quarter of the oil consumed on a daily basis in the good old US of A.  We have very little other export opportunity.  If we are not careful, we could see a twinned Keystone Pipeline taking raw product down and finished product back which could effectively knock out small refiners like Federated Co-op in Regina and Husky in Lloydminster because they have to pay the full price for raw product and the Americans get the heavily-discounted price for the exported Canadian product.    

IPSCO (Evraz) should be building pipe to build a pipeline to ship western Canadian oil to tide water in eastern Canada.  They should also be building pipe to get western Canadian oil to tide water on the west coast.  If we have to ship it through the Alaska Panhandle to get it to tide water, so-be-it. 

The Americans are shipping high-value, light crude around the world because of advances in drilling technology.  They are getting Canadian oil at huge discounts because of the export monopoly.  Politicians like Donald Trump are a dime a dozen in the United States because they believe in America first and they don't care how they get there. 

I don't like the feeling of living in Saskatchewan and being Donald Trump's economic slave.  Premier Moe and other Premiers across this country had better come to the same realization and start refining more of our products here and finding a way to put our Canadian differences aside so that we can get this great Canadian product to the world market.  To do otherwise is to guarantee ourselves a lower standard of living and less opportunity to build up our own citizens who are at the bottom end of the social economic spectrum.  Canada's politicians need to start standing up for Canadians.

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These issues must be debated for “The Right Reasons”.