The first order of business, once a fall session of the soon-to-be-formed Legislature takes place, will be getting a home renovation tax credit in place, according to Premier-elect Scott Moe. However, despite a massive win that, as of election night, was 50 out 61 seats, Moe spent much of his time during the election post-mortem press conference on Oct. 27 being asked about a party that placed a very distant third in the vote count, the Buffalo Party, formerly Wexit Saskatchewan.
The Buffalo Party’s key issue is independence for Saskatchewan.
Those 50 seats could change. Several urban ridings were close enough that there could be a change in the final outcome. “We have a few more days before we determine exactly what the makeup of that caucus is,” he said, referring to the large number of mail-in ballots yet to be counted. Tallying mail in ballots began on Oct. 28, but the final count will not be reached until Nov. 7.
Moe noted that in the coming days he will be meeting with his new caucus and putting together a cabinet. They will be working on a new Speech from the Throne. COVID-19 response will be a priority.
“We will be keeping the current campaign commitments that we made. We will be working towards a strong economic recovery here in the province, and will continue to work to make life more affordable for everyone,” Moe said, “And of course, we're going to continue to manage our way through the pandemic. And we're going to continue working with Dr. Shahab’s efforts to control the spread of COVID-19 and keeping our family members safe. Obviously, the higher recent case numbers are concerning, and we talked about this on the campaign. But I still believe that by following the public health orders that have been placed in the guidelines, we can get those numbers back under control back on track here in Saskatchewan without reverting to widespread lockdowns of our communities and the economy. That said, we will be monitoring the case numbers closely and working with Dr. Shahab’s office about any additional action that may be required.”
Buffalo Party’s impact
A significant number of questions during the press briefing focused on the performance of the new Buffalo Party, which placed third with 11,055 votes for just 17 candidates. While the party didn’t win any seats, it came in second place in four rural ridings, beating out the NDP for second place.
In his victory speech on Oct. 26, Moe said, “We share your frustrations, and we share many of your objectives,” with reference to those who voted for Buffalo, without actually naming the party.
Asked to clarify what he meant by that, Moe said on election night he spoke of representing everyone in Saskatchewan, including those who did not support his party, “and that includes those that may have supported the party that you mentioned and in rural areas of the province who may have some challenges with some of the initiatives that have come from our federal government.
“We are going to talk to those people. We have been discussing with those people. We will ensure that they're represented in the government Saskatchewan, as others that may have supported the opposition party, the NDP party. You know, we first, for sure, are going to make every effort to be a government for all the people in the province and that includes on all parts of the political spectrum.”
Moe said there were initiatives from many parties that should be looked at, but not all. “There are going to be differences between some of the policy initiatives that we, and some of the other parties have regardless of who they are, whether it's a Buffalo Party, whether it's NDP or any of the other parties that ran, but they're Saskatchewan people and you know the concerns and the issues that they have, like the concerns and issues and also Saskatchewan have, are valid.”
He acknowledged the Buffalo Party did very well in a number of seats, noting he couldn’t remember the last time the New Democratic Party had finished third in a number of seats across the province.
People are talking about independence
Moe had made a reference to standing up for “a strong and independent Saskatchewan” during his victory speech. Asked to clarify, he said, “I would say some of the opportunities we have for Saskatchewan to exert our economy, our independence in, you know, the weeks and months ahead.
“There are people that are discussing this openly. It was discussed openly in this in this election campaign. We talked about this, at the government level, in the months gone by, and we're likely going to continue talking about it in the weeks ahead. So, you know, we'll just have to wait a little bit to say specifically what those initiatives are going to be, but we will have a caucus discussion. We believe Saskatchewan best days are ahead of us. And we believe we have opportunities to expand the industries that are creating wealth in our province, and we're going to work very hard to do that.”
Moe said there is opportunity for Saskatchewan as we find our way through the pandemic and the world’s economy starts to recover.
Moe doesn’t support separation
Asked by a reporter to unequivocally state he opposes independence for Saskatchewan, Moe replied, “No, I don’t support Saskatchewan separating from the nation of Canada. Most certainly not. Saskatchewan is a strong and independent province, but we also are a part of the nation of Canada. We are one of 10 provinces and three territories.”
He said Saskatchewan is proud to be contributing to Canada, referring to being a contributor to equalization.
“To have Saskatchewan separating from the nation of Canada, it doesn’t really achieve some of the challenges that we have. Saskatchewan separating from Canada, does nothing to help us build a pipeline across this nation, to service other Canadians with some of the most sustainable, competitively-priced energy in the world. Separating from Canada does nothing to fix some of the other transportation issues that we may have in the way of rail and potash transportation challenges and constrictions that are there.”
He noted separation wouldn’t address sustainability issues and initiatives.
“Separation from Canada does not achieve I think what many people think it would set out to achieve. There is great frustration with a number of initiatives that have come from the current federal government and, in fairness, we've had issues with multiple federal governments over the course of the many decades in this province. But they are coming to a head, and have been coming to a head for some period of time, and we're going to work on a number of those issues to ensure that we are able to expand the economic drivers in our province, here in Saskatchewan, the mining, the energy, the agriculture, to ensure we are able to do it, in a way that we have been doing it, in a very sustainable fashion,” he said.
Moe said there are other initiatives Saskatchewan can work on to expand Saskatchewan’s autonomy and “expand some of our independence when it comes to how we work with the federal government.”
He noted the recent appointment of a Saskatchewan chief firearms commissioner, taking the federal government to the Supreme Court of Canada on the carbon tax.
In the days ahead, Saskatchewan will be looking at taxation. He said Saskatchewan will look to further enhance its independence and autonomy, but not separating from Canada.