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Saskatchewan premier travelling to Europe to discuss food security, energy

REGINA — Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says he will be travelling to Europe later this week to discuss food security and energy during a trade mission.
Premier Scott Moe speaks to the Canadian Press during a year-end interview at the Legislative Building in Regina on Tuesday Dec. 14, 2021. Moe says he will be travelling to the European Union later this week to discuss food security and energy during a trade mission. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Michael Bell

REGINA — Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says he will be travelling to Europe later this week to discuss food security and energy during a trade mission. 

Although the trip was planned prior to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Moe said the war has highlighted the need for Canada to backfill some exports to the European Union, such as potash, uranium and agri-food products. 

"Security around food, around energy is of the utmost importance to everyone around the world. And what's on full display in Europe is what can occur when you find yourself in a position where you're purchasing a number of your products from a country such as Russia," Moe said Monday. 

"We put forward many of those products can actually be purchased from Canada, and in many cases from Saskatchewan."

Moe said he will be visiting the United Kingdom and Germany, where he will be joined by business leaders and organizations, and they will also engage with the financial sector in London. 

A spokesperson for the premier said his itinerary will be finalized in the days ahead.

The province recently established a trade office in the U.K., but trade missions had been put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Moe said his hope is to engage the European Union on using more Saskatchewan commodities, which have increased in demand. 

"Ultimately, we have a great story to tell here in Saskatchewan and we're going to be abroad telling it shortly." 

Last week, Saskatchewan-based Nutrien said it is increasing its potash production by about 20 per cent in response to the uncertainty of supply from eastern Europe as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues.

The company said it will increase production of the key fertilizer ingredient by nearly one-million tonnes, and it will hire more workers at its potash mines in the province. 

Saskatchewan uranium company Cameco also said it will restart two mines this year after spot uranium prices for 2021 were up nearly 40 per cent, reaching their highest level in nine years.

Moe added that a work stoppage at Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd., which began Sunday, could potentially damage Saskatchewan industries at the worst possible time, particularly the potash, uranium and agriculture sectors.

Moe joined agriculture groups by calling on the federal government to use back-to-work legislation to get CP trains moving again. He also wants the federal government to classify railworkers as essential workers.

"For us, it's not about CP the company. It's not about the labour organizations. It's about the individuals that work and drive the trains and ensuring we have that service," Moe said.

Saskatchewan's Ministry of Justice is also examining what options it has to ensure trains continue to deliver products to market, Moe said.

"If there is that lengthy protracted service disruption that will cause Saskatchewan — very much on the international stage — some reputational damage of being a sustainable supplier of potash, uranium, and agri-food products ... that's a problem for us."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 21, 2022. 

Mickey Djuric, The Canadian Press