Estevan – The Progressive Conservative Party of Saskatchewan’s platform runs the gambit from minimal intervention in the economy and low taxes to seeking more autonomy within Canada. The PCs are running candidates in 31 constituencies in this election, and on Oct. 19, Leader Ken Grey was in Estevan, where he connected with local Estevan candidate Linda Sopp.
Asked what the key issues in their platform are, Grey responded, “Our big issue in this election is we've been focusing on a Saskatchewan-first policy. We're looking at getting ourselves out of the New West Trade Partnership, mainly for the reasons being that we're finding that a lot of Saskatchewan companies are being bypassed for some of the infrastructure work that we need to have done in Saskatchewan.”
Grey said he’s all for municipalities, governments and school boards being able to save money, “but they should also have the ability to make their own decisions, free of any regulations from a deal that was signed in the back rooms by the government with other jurisdictions.”
These entities should be able to choose local companies over out-of-province ones, Grey said.
“We raised it well before the NDP did,” he added.
Grey is concerned about Manitoba and Alberta companies doing Saskatchewan’s road construction, especially since the Saskatchewan Party has promised $7.5 billion in infrastructure spending.
Secondly, he said, “We’re looking at a more autonomous Saskatchewan. We want to try to make our province a little more independent from Ottawa. One of the things we're calling for is our own provincial police force. Our hope is that with that police force, we can concentrate on especially in rural Saskatchewan, where they would be, in effect, we can concentrate on some of the shortfalls that we're finding with the RCMP right now.”
Part of that is the concept of volunteer police officers. Grey explained, “This is something that is in more remote areas that might, you know, just like a volunteer fire department. What we would have is, is kind of a volunteer sheriff, who would be trained, and properly trained, to do this, but they're not going to be on duty … we’re looking at them as a first responder, so they can go there and they can do the assessment.”
The PCs would also like to see Saskatchewan have more control over immigration. He said the current Saskatchewan Party government is using immigration to trump up population numbers. “If you take away immigration, we're actually in a net decline of population,” Grey said.
“They're being brought here under the pretense that they're going to have great opportunity when in actuality, they're coming here to work in a fast food joint. So, we're just saying we need to be a little smarter and look at immigration as more of a means to bring investment to Canada and investment to investment here, and less using it as means of cheap labour.”
He added that his partner is Filipino, saying, “I'm not begrudging the fact that they're coming over here to do some work, but I'm saying what I'm concerned about is a government that's using it as a political stunt.”
Thirdly, Grey mentioned accountability. One way is to reduce the number of MLAs in the Legislature from 61 to 58. “What we're saying is that we have too many politicians in Saskatchewan so we're proposing to take it back to 58, which is what it was prior to the Sask party increasing it.”
The platform also includes MLA recall legislation.
The PC platform only mentions “deficit” once, and doesn’t mention revenue at all. Asked where they will get additional revenue from, Grey explained it would be through lowering taxes and expanding the tax base. He said, “It's simple, and the reason why it's simple as because if we if we'd lower taxes, and we bring in tax credits for corporations and put more money into the hands of people, they spend more. They earn more. And we have more jobs. So, from that. It obviously won't be an immediate thing. But we can certainly look at an expanded tax base, and an expanded economy if we're doing more value added and doing more manufacturing and utilizing our resource sector, the way we can in this in this province, by having the most competitive taxes in the country.”
Those tax credits would target secondary industry like manufacturing.
“I'm not an interventionist. I'm not a government interventionist in the economy. I believe fully that if we give businesses the tools to do the job, and the ability to make some make some money at it, that ultimately will mean more of a tax base,” he said.
Asked about coal-fired power generation, Grey said, “I'm rather upset that that we are being forced into this by the federal government,” referring to the shutdown of coal-fired power generation by 2030.
He’d rather see the province take the federal government to court on this than the carbon tax.
Grey said, “We can certainly look at bringing in private investment to do carbon capture technology. I think that would be useful. The whole concept is a good one, especially when you're looking at the whole area of climate.
“I would like to see the government less involved in it and private industry more involved in carbon capture.”
The platform also mentions “Invest in the building of a heavy crude refinery in Estevan area,” even though there is no heavy oil production in southeast Saskatchewan.