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Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe speaks during the Saskatchewan Party 2021 Convention, in Saskatoon, on Nov. 6.Liam Richards/The Canadian Press

That rumbling sound you heard this week was the very foundation of the country being shaken by calls from Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe for nationhood status within Confederation.

And the populace responded with a collective: say what?

Well, slough off this threat at your peril my friends. Saskatchewan may not have been one of the three founding nations of Canada. And it doesn’t have a language separate from the rest of the country. But people were surely curling there long before it became fashionable in the rest of the country.

And if being a fan of the Saskatchewan Roughriders doesn’t make you unique, what does? And then there’s bunny hugs. If you have to ask then clearly you haven’t been to the province. I could go on. Well, actually I couldn’t. But surely there’s enough there to make the case that Saskatchewan is as culturally distinct as one of its delicious berry pies.

This week on the Roy Green radio show, Mr. Moe made this very case, suggesting his province deserved to have special status within Confederation because, well, it deserved it. Now one could take this statement seriously or recognize it for what it is: preposterous pandering to a party base that hasn’t exactly been thrilled with the Premier’s performance of late.

It’s Mr. Moe creating yet another distraction from his government’s gross mishandling of the fourth wave of the pandemic. And the way you deal with that is you talk about “independence” instead.

“We’re going to flex our autonomy,” Mr. Moe told Mr. Green’s radio audience. “Flex our provincial muscle, if you will, within the nation of Canada.”

Go ahead and flex, Mr. Premier.

Mr. Moe said he wasn’t proposing separation (phew!), but rather greater autonomy from a federal government that is working “against the best interests of the country.”

If the Premier honestly believes his province will be further ahead with its own police force, taxation regime, immigration program, then start the talks. If being more like Quebec is what Saskatchewan – with 3 per cent of the country’s population – wants, then let the negotiations begin.

My strong suspicion is this is not a priority for most of the good folks who live there. Rather, it’s a means for Mr. Moe to take a few cheap whacks at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, which is always good politics in a part of the Prairies where that last name can still incite red faces and strong language.

Mr. Moe said he is upset with the federal government’s plan to cap oil and gas emissions as part of its commitment to reducing the country’s CO2 output by 40 per cent by 2030. Although, he admitted to a recent party convention, he wasn’t sure what impact, if any, this policy would have on the province.

The Premier lamented the fact that Mr. Trudeau didn’t go to the COP26 conference in Glasgow and tout the benefits of Saskatchewan energy, which he said was the most sustainable anywhere on the planet. This would be news to environmentalists who have long lamented the province’s environmental record.

Methane leakage from gas wells in Saskatchewan has been a huge problem for ages, yet the gas helps generate more than 40 per cent of the province’s electricity. Another 40 per cent is produced using coal. I’m not sure Mr. Moe wants anyone going to international conferences singing the praises of Saskatchewan’s environmental record because this fantasy would be exposed in a hurry.

The fact is, what Mr. Moe, and his BFF next door, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, specialize in these days is corrosive and divisive grievance politics. Everything is the fault of the big, bad Liberal government in Ottawa that is allegedly singling out the two provinces through its energy plan and other policies.

Mr. Trudeau would never implement something like a cap on oil and gas emissions against Ontario’s car manufacturing sector, they complain. No, the Liberals would just impose a carbon tax that will soar to $170 a tonne by the end of the decade instead – a levy that is partially designed to get people out of their cars. The same Liberals that also plan to bring in a zero-emission mandate for new vehicles.

Mr. Moe’s “nation within a nation” gambit this week is embarrassing. As I say, it’s a nonsensical ploy to get people to look somewhere other than at his government’s dismal handling of the pandemic.

The Premier’s complaint of regional bias against Saskatchewan and the West by the federal government became boring a long time ago. If he thinks wanting to be like Quebec is the answer to all that ails his province, he’s sadly mistaken.

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