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Getson: Building Ties Between the Canadian Prairies and American Midwest

I am writing this note at 30,00 feet, travelling along at roughly 500 miles per hour. Yes, I’m using the correct units of measurement, because technically I am still in the USA. I was recently appointed (because I asked loudly enough) to attend the Mid-West Legislatures Conference in Wichita, Kansas. I am sure glad that I did because I met some very incredible people and learned a ton about our neighbors not only to the south, but in Saskatchewan and Manitoba as well. It is evident that the concept of economic corridors, as well as ‘North America First’ makes not only economic sense, but it is literally in all our best interest regarding security.

There were some attendees that were obviously from opposite ends of the political spectrum, but in this context, at the convention, I was absolutely impressed how most of the participants parked the “Company Lines” at the door and really listened to one another. Delegates from the Detroit area were very excited about turning the Motor City around when it comes to manufacturing. They were extremely surprised to know how much energy we provide them, and just as protective of keeping the lines that supply energy not only open to them but growing as well. They were astounded by the amount of potash that Saskatchewan had, and as well as how much lithium that both our provinces could provide. They invited us to meet with their Governor to discuss further and wanted to come and see for themselves why I was so proud of our oilsands production. They were extremely interested in the transition approach to technology and energy within our hydrogen programs. These were Democrat Representatives and Senators.

The problem with being Canadian is we have become ‘Can’t Nadians’ over the years and have not shown up to the dance. We then sit on the sidelines and wonder why others are not excited to take us to the prom as it were. We need to be engaged, we need to tell our story ourselves, and no matter how hard working our bureaucrats are that attend these events on our behalf, they simply do not carry the same weight as our locally elected officials in these rooms or across these discussions. Alberta needs to attend these events, and we need to make sure we get folks up to our province, in conjunction with Saskatchewan and Manitoba to really show what the Northwest can do for the strategies that supply and protect North America.

The Midwest and the prairie provinces have the same or similar challenges when it comes to providing the supports required to ensure that the less populated parts of our country remain viable. We heard about the challenges, but more importantly about the successes not only on the economy, but in the quality of life. We need rural just as much as we need the big cities. We heard about the logistic challenges, transition fuels, electric vehicles, and all the other stretch targets. We also heard about the realistic expectations, and engineering realities of trying to obtain them in the timeline given by some of the “Big Dream” policy makers. A balance of where we may want to head, with realistically how we would be able to get there is needed; this discussion is vital, and we sure as heck can not plunge headlong over a cliff based on wishful thinking.

We were complimented many times on the value that my fellow MLA and I brought to the discussion, both in the way we approached challenges and in the practical experience that we had. I was told by one former cabinet minister that I was not the “typical” rep that Alberta sent, and he was very appreciative of that. He was encouraged that Alberta was sending people who really wanted to work in the best interest of the west and who had the experience to get the conversations heading in the right direction.

I was rather flattered by that compliment, as I had been doing my utmost to pitch the

concept of the economic corridors, and the Corridor Management Authority as being a Northwestern Canada nation building concept. The former speaker of the house from Saskatchewan was my best advocate and connected me with the right folks at the conference, and they are just as excited as I am about getting out, seeing the sights and working the details, as opposed to just talking about it. In short, executing a plan to lay the foundations

for advancement on the file, which will help with growth and prosperity for generations to come. ‘Can-Nadians’ through and through.

I had joked with a senator from Nebraska that after they played both of our national anthems that if they weren’t careful a hockey game may break out, he laughed wholeheartedly. But when the “Canadian Contingent” was asked to stand and be recognized by the host senator from Kansas because we had been very much missed over the last few years, he cheered like a long-lost brother. We were made not only to feel welcomed as visitors but welcomed home as family.

If we are going to capitalize on our relaunch however and ensure that we all think in the North American Context, we really must talk about not only freedom of movement of goods, but of services, and of our citizens. During our session on Canada-USA relations, we were addressed by a professor and a lawyer, who have performed work in this area, and have reviewed the issues as well as made recommendations.

The Wilson Centre is a very well-respected organization, and literally has addressed the areas where governments and law makers got it wrong. I won’t go into full details but basically, the medical community should not be the ones making the primary decisions or have that control over the borders, the movement of people, or some of the “we think its effective” restrictions.

The current federal travel protocols are not consistent, and they are out of touch with what is

happening in the rest of the world and more importantly with our largest trading partner. I look forward to being home, but there is a definite contrast from the land of the free and the home of the brave, when compared to the federal government for the true north strong and free. We again need freedom of movement, freedom of choice, and for the remaining vaccine mandates, mask protocols, and restriction of work to be a thing of the past.

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