Saskatchewan election: NDP urges voters not to trust Sask. Party in final week

REGINA — Saskatchewan NDP Leader Ryan Meili is urging voters not to trust the words of his main political rival, who says there won't be cuts after next Monday's provincial election.

Meili campaigned Monday in Regina next to a former bus depot that belonged to the Saskatchewan Transportation Company before it was shut down by the Saskatchewan Party government.

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Arriving at the announcement on a out-of-service STC bus, Meili promised to restore a provincial bus service if his NDP is elected to form government.

Back in 2017, the Saskatchewan Party government cited a decline in ridership and high cost of operation as to why it decided to shut down the bus system.

The NDP has spent the past three weeks of the campaign insisting Moe is not being forthcoming with plans to make more service cuts and raise taxes, as was done after the Saskatchewan Party's 2016 election win.

"The Sask. Party has shown us over and over again, they'll say one thing before an election and the opposite after," Meili said Monday.

"There's absolutely a pattern."

In a statement, the Saskatchewan Party accused Meili of turning to scare tactics in the final week of the election campaign.

"Scott Moe has been clear: taxes will not be raised, Crowns will not be privatized, and we will continue to make key investments in essential services and Crown utilities," said party spokesman Jim Billington.

Moe hadn't ruled out raising taxes until recently. At his party's platform announcement in Saskatoon, he refused to say whether he would increases taxes or reduce services if the province's revenue levels fall short because of the pandemic.

Last week, after a televised leaders' debate, Moe told reporters there would be no mass cuts across government, no sales of Crowns and no tax increases.

Moe campaigned in Battleford on Monday, touting his party's support for the region over the past 13 years in government.

He also highlighted a promise to cut the small business tax rate if the party is re-elected to a fourth term.

Moe underlined his message that reviving the economy from the COVID-19 pandemic would be done through job creation and growth, expressing confidence in the approach because of the province's low unemployment rate.

Along with millions in new spending promises, he's also pledged to eliminate the projected $2.1 billion deficit by 2024-25 — one of reasons why Meili is suggesting possible cuts.

Before the election, provincial finance officials said a return to balance by 2024 was built on the assumption that the spread of COVID-19 would stay under control and widespread economic shutdowns could be avoided.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 19, 2020.

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