In Focus: Provincial politicians’ relationship with feds always key in Sask. elections

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That seemed to dampen down conflict over long-running grievances, at least temporarily. The carbon tax, equalization, disputes over firearms all seemed to recede into the background as the pandemic consumed public attention.

But with the campaign pressure amping up, that truce is giving way to a new round of wrangling over how Saskatchewan should face up to Ottawa.

What the experts think

Loleen Berdahl, executive director of the Johnson Shoyama School of Public Policy, wasn’t surprised to see the change in tone in federal-provincial relations during the pandemic.

“The federal government, during COVID, clearly showed that it can be very relevant to the lives of people in Saskatchewan,” she said in an interview early in September.

But that could change quickly, and Berdahl doesn’t expect to see anyone cozy up to Justin Trudeau. Campaigning against his last name is “always effective politics” in Saskatchewan.

A federal throne speech is slated for Wednesday. Trudeau’s government will outline its priorities, expected to include big spending combined with a renewed focus on green initiatives.Berdahl will be watching how that interacts with provincial politics.

“I think what will be interesting to watch on the NDP side is the extent to which Meili is willing to seem to be associated with the federal government,” she said.

Jim Farney, head of the politics and international studies department at the University of Regina, said there’s a danger the federal throne speech could look a lot like policies the Saskatchewan NDP would like to support. That isn’t good news for NDP Leader Ryan Meili.

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