The embattled coal industry was one of the topics discussed at Wednesday morning's coffee talk with Souris-Moose Mountain MP Robert Kitchen.
Kitchen spoke to about 30 people at the Days Inn in Estevan, and not surprisingly the uncertainty of the coal industry was on people's minds.
It's also a topic that Kitchen has been fighting for in Ottawa with his political opponents.
"There's a four letter word that they hate, and they consider it a swear word, and it's spelled C-O-A-L," Kitchen said. "And I said, 'Is it the industry you want to kill, or is it the emissions?' And they say, 'It's the emissions, we don't want to kill the industry.' And I say, 'In my hometown, we've got basically a unit that captures 98 per cent of the emissions.'"
"It's unfortunate when they'll make comments of 'It's emissions we want to get rid of,' but it's emissions that they want and they don't understand how it is to live out in this part of the world."
Recently, a 10-year time period has been attached to the idea of phasing out coal, but Kitchen believes that's not long enough.
"We should be looking 20, 30 years down the road, because we need that energy, we need that energy security. And we need base energy," he said. "Those are the steps that we will be trying to move forward on, and trying to get the government to understand, because I don't believe they understand that."
Kitchen added that the future of coal could become clearer later this year when two new pieces of legislation on just transition are introduced.
"What does that transition mean?" Kitchen asked. "This government loves to use those buzz words, but it actually has no action behind those buzz words. Obviously I'm going to have to wait and see what that just transition legislation says, and whether it's actually going to be of value, because they don't look down the road."
"If we're going to go to things like for example SMRs, that's fine. But a lot of what goes on with SMRs, when you talk to them, a lot of the equipment that's there...they need the engineers, they need the steam mechanics etc. because it's still creating that part, so those services are needed. How can what we have today be transferred to that source?
Kitchen said Canada would also be wise to look at what others parts of the world have done for transitioning away from coal.
"You take a look at places like Germany...they've transitioned out of coal, the steps that they've done....none of that was even looked at for here, and that's unfortunate," he said.
"We have our workers in the coal fields who are looking at things, saying 'I'm 50 years of age, do I retire or not?'. You've got the young ones that are coming in at 20, 23 saying, 'Okay where's my future?' Those are things we need...we need that hope, and we need to be pushing on that."