Canadian politics: Borderlands are changing rapidly

The main newspapers in Saskatchewan with coverage of the provincial election on 7 April Saskatchewan, the home province of an opposition leader who has called the province “the perfect storm” for the fossil fuel…

Canadian politics: Borderlands are changing rapidly

The main newspapers in Saskatchewan with coverage of the provincial election on 7 April

Saskatchewan, the home province of an opposition leader who has called the province “the perfect storm” for the fossil fuel industry, has elected a right-wing Conservative government with a stronger anti-carbon tax stance than its Liberal predecessors.

The Saskatchewan Party’s winning coalition comprises two separatist parties and 43 first-time candidates, setting it up as one of the most improbable parties to lead a province.

At provincial election polls last October, the Saskatchewan Party (which includes one independent) obtained 37% of the popular vote, beating out its target of 30%.

And in Sunday’s election, Sask Party Premier Scott Moe won with 39.4% of the vote, according to results from the province’s three larger cities.

The Saskatchewan Party calls itself a “nation”, to prevent it from being considered a party of only men. And that makes Moe the premier of the only province where there is a vocal population calling for a separation from Canada.

He has promised to repeal any carbon tax imposed by Ottawa.

If he is successful, Moe could be at the head of the only nation committed to keeping fossil fuels going.

But the Premier is only a pacesetter. Even if all federal policies are scrapped, Canadian politicians may be reluctant to press ahead with much-needed changes that may eliminate coal-fired power and set methane limits for landfills and natural gas.

Britain’s Conservative Party has moved cautiously to embrace the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” – science-driven advances in machine technology and artificial intelligence which have opened up opportunities for people with a minority skill set.

In October 2016, on the opposite side of the world, the Canada New Democratic Party (NDP) campaigned on the theme of “made in Canada” – a pledge to stop any reduction in the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.

At the Canadian elections last October, the NDP received 31% of the popular vote and 52 seats in Parliament – no worse than it managed in 1968 when the party came to power in the first of its “co-operatives” government with “five strikes” policy.

The popular parties in Canada have also been mentioned in the past as potential partners in a union with the UK’s Lib Dems.

Labour, the political party born out of the British National party, has moderated its right-wing policies since the party’s leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has come to power in May 2015.

Lib Dems remain a constituency party for the UK’s Labour-supporting United Kingdom Independence Party, or UKIP. It is also a voice in the Commons to UK Conservative MPs with a mixed racial make-up that divides the party left and right.

UKIP supports a hard Brexit that would exit the European Union, while UK Labour supports a delay to Brexit until EU leaders agree with the European Parliament to discuss any future relationship.

Scotland voted by a greater percentage to remain in the EU than did England in 2016, a result that was widely seen as heralding an end to the pro-EU Labour Party’s “interventionist” coalition with the SNP.

Analysts have long held that a Labour-SNP minority government would inevitably lead to a Tory government, because the Scottish Conservatives — who only came fourth in Scotland with only six seats — are the only party which has a strong pro-independence bloc.

For all intents and purposes, British politics has become a “hard Brexit” or a “soft EU” collision course.

That could mean a major shift for British politics.

The election returns of the Canadian Prairies in Canada means that Canadian federal politicians — and their constituents — face a direct conflict between a withdrawal from the EU, and the urgent requirement to deliver a local solution to a regional challenge that poses serious risks to Canada’s fossil fuel production, forest-based economy and national security interests.

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