Premier Brad Wall has made the tough decision to leave Saskatchewan as unprecedented wildfires burn to join the premiers meetings in St. John’s, Newfoundland a day late.
He left Wednesday after briefing the media of his plans, and assures he will still take part in daily conference calls with the Emergency Operations Centre regarding the wildfires.
While at the meetings, he plans to bring up the forest fires. He said crews were running out of basic equipment because every sprinkler is being used.
“You need pumps for that. They access water, you need hose for that. So some of those basic things that we would normally, probably just call Alberta or B.C. or Manitoba and say we need these things, well they were all fighting fires,” he explained.
Wall will recommend provinces set up some sort of cache of firefighting equipment for the future.
He also wants to make sure the armed forces receive more firefighting training from the get go. Those arriving in Saskatchewan are spending a day being trained in Prince Albert before joining the battle.
“We’ll offer that Saskatchewan could do the training because we’ve developed this four or five-hour course to achieve it,” said Wall.
The premier’s other main focus at the meetings is on energy transportation and the economy. Wall explained there is still work to be done to form a new internal trade deal between provinces by the March 2016 deadline.
Wall stressed that oil and gas should be recognized as a strength, not a liability.
He continues to throw his support behind the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) calling it “a very crucial trade agreement for Saskatchewan”, and the Energy East pipeline which would transport oil from Saskatchewan and Alberta through the eastern provinces to ports along the Atlantic.
He also spoke up against commentary coming out of Ontario and Quebec about western provinces requiring a licence bypassing environment laws before the pipeline is approved.
Wall stated he is categorically against holding up approvals of pipeline that would replace foreign oil.
“How about $10 billion dollars in equalization? That’s a pretty good licence. How about massive jobs created here for all Canadians?” he said.
The premier also expressed a growing sense of frustration by energy producing provinces, with growing economies that he says are creating opportunities for all Canadians.
“Maybe we need to have equalization payments flowing through a pipeline to finally get one approved through central Canada.”