Saskatchewan Party Leader Scott Moe and Saskatchewan NDP Leader Ryan Meili debate during the Leaders' Debate at the Provincial Archives in Regina on Wednesday Oct. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Michael Bell

Party leaders in Saskatchewan square off in televised leaders debate

Party leaders in Saskatchewan square off in televised leaders debate

REGINA — Saskatchewan Party Leader Scott Moe tried to fend off attacks during Wednesday night’s election leaders debate as his main challenger probed for soft spots in the long-governing party’s record.

NDP Leader Ryan Meili accused the incumbent premier of having a hidden austerity agenda as the two parties campaign toward the Oct. 26 vote.

Meili said now is the time for the province to invest in health care, smaller class sizes and infrastructure that will get people back to work.

Moe warned that reckless spending by the NDP would harm the province’s economic recovery during the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said the Saskatchewan Party has an economic plan that would make life more affordable for families with cuts to power bills and home renovation tax credits — all while balancing the budget by 2024.

The NDP, Moe charged, has no specific timeline to get out of the red.

“We are going to balance the budget as soon as we are able, but we’re not going to do it in a way that is going to hurt families and that’s the biggest difference,” Meili responded.

“People across the province, they want to see wise fiscal management, but the deficits that the people that I am talking to are the most concerned about are the deficits in our schools, the deficits in our hospitals and the deficits in the bank accounts of ordinary families.”

Moe recalled the financial record of the New Democrats when the party was in power in the 1990s and early 2000s.

“This is the NDP record of not balancing the budget in Saskatchewan,” Moe said.

“Mr. Moe, have you ever balanced a budget?” Meili interjected, a shot at the Saskatchewan Party government’s long string of deficits.

Much of the debate focused on spending and Moe accused the NDP of planning to finance its investments on the backs of taxpayers.

“We will not raise taxes for ordinary families by a single cent,” Meili responded.

“The only increase that we are committed to is asking those very few families — those folks with over $15 million free and clear in assets — to pay a little bit more right now.”

Moe said the NDP numbers don’t add up.

“You are accounting, with your tax increase, for one per cent — one per cent — of your deficit spending that you have put forward. Where is the other 99 per cent going to come from?” Moe asked.

“It’s going to come from you,” he said turning to the camera before Meili could respond.

Meili also tried to score points on the topic of youth suicide, criticizing Moe for not meeting with an Indigenous protester who set up a teepee camp on the lawn in front of the legislature earlier this year. Tristen Durocher fasted for 44 days in an effort to convince the government to legislate a suicide prevention strategy.

Moe countered that he sent two minister to meet with Durocher, even as the province was taking the young man to court to have his teepee removed. The government ended up losing the court case.

“Instead of meeting him, Mr. Moe, you sent two of your ministers across the road to basically say get off my lawn. What kind of a message do you think that sends?” Meili said.

“Words will not get us reconciliation. It takes action.”

The debate was a first for Moe and Meili, who both won their party leadership contests two years ago.

Moe, who moved into the premier’s office when Brad Wall retired from politics in 2018, has recently faced tough questions on the campaign trail about his past.

He apologized to the family of a woman killed in a car crash that he caused in 1997, and he disclosed an impaired driving charge from 1994 that was stayed.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 14, 2020.

Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cilantro and Chive was voted in the top three in no less than 13 different categories in the 2020 Best of Lacombe Readers Choice Awards. Photo by Megan Roth/Lacombe Express
Cilantro and Chive opening in Red Deer

There will now be two Cilantro and Chive locations. The restaurant announced… Continue reading

People wear face masks as they wait to enter a store in Montreal on October 24, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Canadian provinces hardest hit by COVID-19 reach sobering milestones

MONTREAL — The Canadian provinces hardest hit by the global COVID-19 pandemic… Continue reading

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Federal study details workers hit hardest by tax, benefit system for extra earnings

OTTAWA — Newly released documents show Finance Department officials calculated that workers… Continue reading

Cenovus. (The Canadian Press)
Cenovus to buy Husky Energy in deal valued at $23.6B, company will remain in Alberta

CALGARY — Cenovus Energy Inc. is buying Husky Energy Inc. in an… Continue reading

test tube with the blood test is on the table next to the documents. Positive test for coronavirus covid-19. The concept of fighting a dangerous Chinese disease.
The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 10:49… Continue reading

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson, B.C. NDP leader John Horgan and B.C. Greens leader Sonia Furstenau. (Black Press Media)
VIDEO: One day until B.C. voters go to the polls in snap election defined by pandemic

NDP Leader John Horgan’s decision to call an election comes more than a year ahead of schedule and during a pandemic

Alice Kolisnyk, deputy director of the Red Deer Food Bank, says the agency expects an increase in demand as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Every new subscription to the Red Deer Advocate includes a $50 donation to the food bank. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Support the food bank with a subscription to the Red Deer Advocate

The community’s most vulnerable members are always in need of a hand,… Continue reading

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
John Horgan says he will work across party lines to find ideas that work for B.C.

VICTORIA — British Columbia’s election results show a divided province with Liberal… Continue reading

President Donald Trump gestures from the top of the steps of Air Force 1 at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. When people in the United States talk about moving to Canada to escape four more years of Donald Trump, it’s usually either a punchline or a pipe dream. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Susan Walsh
Move to Canada? A pipe dream for some Americans is a parachute for Canadian expats

WASHINGTON, Wash. — When people in the United States talk about moving… Continue reading

The Cogeco logo is seen in Montreal on Thursday, October 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Five things to watch for in the Canadian business world in the coming week

TORONTO — Five things to watch for in the Canadian business world… Continue reading

President Donald Trump, left, and Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden during the second and final presidential debate Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020, at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn. Stock market investors are breathing a little easier despite potentially facing higher taxes as the possibility of a contested U.S. presidential election appears to be fading, say investment experts. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Patrick Semansky
Markets concerns about contested U.S. election fading with Biden lead in polls

TORONTO — Stock market investors are breathing a little easier despite potentially… Continue reading

(File photo)
Ontario records more than 1,000 new daily COVID-19 cases for first time

Ontario is reporting more than 1,000 mew daily cases of COVID-19 for… Continue reading

Pope Francis delivers his message during the Angelus noon prayer from the window of his studio overlooking St.Peter's Square, at the Vatican, Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Pope names 13 new cardinals, includes US Archbishop Gregory

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis on Sunday named 13 new cardinals, including… Continue reading

Dave Mercer, President of Unifor Local 2121, overlooks Conception Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador and the Terra Nova floating production vessel that is anchored there on Friday, October 23, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Daly
As N.L.’s oil industry sputters, the emotional toll of the cod moratorium looms large

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Dave Mercer spent the early 1990s roaming around… Continue reading

Most Read