Oil, agriculture and coal miners come out in support to Estevan event

Pierre Poilievre speaking at a farm near Estevan. Photo by Spencer Zinchuk

 

ESTEVAN – Frontrunner Conservative leadership candidate Pierre Poilievre skipped a national leadership debate to make his second visit to southeast Saskatchewan in two months on Aug. 3, making stops in Weyburn, Estevan and Moosomin as well as Regina that day.

After a meet and greet in Weyburn, he came out to Jason and Sherrill LeBlanc’s farm, west of Estevan, for another meet and greet with supporters. There, a backdrop of representative equipment from local businesses and the farm was lined up. There was a picker truck, a semi of bales, a dump truck of coal, a cement truck, a tractor and combine, each meant to show a different part of the local economy – oil, ranching, coal mining and power, industry and farming.

Sitting on bales or lawn chairs, roughly 80 supporters came to hear Poilievre’s stump speech and then have a brief chat with the candidate. Many brought their chequebooks, and used them.

That was a key point, as the party apparatus had wanted all leadership candidates to take part in one more national debate, in Ottawa. Poilievre, and then fellow candidate Leslyn Lewis, bowed out, with each incurring a $50,000 fine for failing to attend the debate. Later in the evening, Poilievre’s LinkedIn post said, “Did 6 events to get out the vote in Estevan, Weyburn & Regina today—better than listening to a defeated Liberal premier drone on about his latest carbon tax idea.”

(Note: if the video above appears greyed out, click on it – it still works. Not sure why YouTube is gltichy)

Stacey Wempe is owner of Grimes Sales & Service, whose company provides those distinctive pumpjacks with a bend walking beam. She had one of their company picker trucks brought out to make part of the backdrop. From its hoisting cable hung a Canadian flag, limply, due to the lack of wind. And that may be a metaphor for how many of the people present have felt about the federal government under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Wempe said her family is undecided about who to support. “Frankly, they don’t trust any politician,” she said.

Stacey Wempe, right, and Pierre Poilievre stand in front of a Grimes Sales & Service picker truck. Photo by Brian Zinchuk

Some support Maxime Bernier, but Wempe said, “He doesn’t have a seat.”

“The only way we’re going to unseat Justin Trudeau is Pierre Poilievre. I think he’s our only hope. That’s my thing,” Wempe said.

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Asked what message she liked, Wempe responded, “The one I really liked was to scrap the carbon tax.”

“I think he thinks a lot about the West, and he knows energy and farming aren’t going anywhere.”

Doug Martens, left, meets Pierre Poilievre. Photo by Brian Zinchuk

 

Doug Martens, president of Estevan Meter, has a healthy amount of skepticism with politicians, saying, “I’m not sure I believe any politician. I hate to say that, because I kind of like him. That’s the third time I’ve seen him. But he definitely makes an attempt to portray that his leadership model is there to serve us, not for us to serve him, which is different from what we are enduring.”

If that sounds like dissatisfaction with the current federal Liberal government, it is. Martens has personally voted with his dollars, expanding his business into Williston, North Dakota, because of his displeasure with the anti-energy bias the Trudeau government has taken. And when he had a few moments to talk to Poilievre, Martens told him that, too.

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“I did make him aware that I recently made an investment outside of Canada. You know, he quizzed me a little bit about that. I said I felt much more welcomed with my oilfield service business in the United States than I do in Canada. I said it was a strategy to invest out of the country. with the current regime. I said I make that I made that decision unhappily. But I felt that was a message he needed to hear. He’s going across the country, hearing things from people, and here’s a business guy not investing his money in Canada.

“I don’t think that’s positive for Canada.”

From left: Megan, Gracie and Marci LeBlanc meet Pierre Poilievre, with their father Jason LeBlanc to the right. Photo by Brian Zinchuk

Jason LeBlanc, who hosted the affair with his wife, Sherrill, on their farm, said, “It was a hell of a deal. I heard nothing but praise for him, compliments for him. People that were on the fence between him and Leslyn Lewis are 100 per cent for him now.

“When he announced that anybody in his government will be banned from the WEF, boom! That got him that got them all,” he said, referring to the World Economic Forum.”

About 80 people attended the Estevan meet and greet. Photo by Brian Zinchuk

 

LeBlanc liked Poilievre’s statements about enforcing freedom of speech on university campuses, ensuring lively debates, not just left-wing ideologies. He has one daughter attending university, one that has recently finished school, and a third who is still in high school.

LeBlanc’s perspective is not only that of a farmer with 16,000 acres under cultivation, but also that of the reeve of the RM of Estevan. That RM is host to both coal mining and power production, with the Shand and Boundary Dam Power Stations. Indeed, the carbon dioxide pipeline that runs between the Boundary Dam Unit 3 Integrated Carbon Capture Project and the Weyburn Unit runs across their land, just north of their farmyard.

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On the farming side, LeBlanc picked up on Poilievre’s comments on recent moves by the federal government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with nitrogen fertilizer by 30 per cent. “He said that will cause you to have way more acres, (in order) to produce more. And then you’re using canola to get rid of oil and gas, so you’re going to use canola for biodiesels. Well, that takes away from food production.”

As for coal, there was a not-so-subtle show of support from the coal miners union, who brought a blue dump truck of lignite coal and had it on display in the background. This was pointed out to Poilievre.

“He talked about the coal and the carbon capture and how fortunate we are to have that here,” LeBlanc said of Poilievre.

LeBlanc spoke highly of the miners’ union’s attendance. In later discussions with those miners, Poilievre heard there’s a lot more uses for coal than just burning it.

Jody Dukart, right, with Pierre Poilievre. On the right side of the photo is a blue dump truck full of locally mined lignite coal, courtesy Westmoreland. Photo by Brian Zinchuk

 

That discussion included Jody Dukart, international auditor-teller for the United Mine Workers of America. Dukart is also a municipal politician, a division councillor for the RM of Coalfields, which hosts the Bienfait mine.

Dukart said, “To me, it was positive. He came out and said we need to look at the energy sector, including carbon capture and storage.”

Dukart spoke with Poilievre about using coal for things like activated carbon for water filtration, for instance.

He said, “You know, nobody’s our friend in government. It seems like everybody just kind of wants to turn away from coal. So at least he’s talking about it, and I believe, if he gets into power, I think he will look at that for the future.”

 

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  • 0019 Jerry Mainil Ltd hiring dugout
  • 0018 IWS Hiring Royal Summer
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Grounded Lithium just drilled its first targeted lithium well in Saskatchewan, only the second of its type in this province