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

politics

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

Just Posted

Eighteen inmates and four staff at Red Deer Remand Centre have tested positive for COVID-19. Advocate file photo
Red Deer Remand Centre up to 22 COVID cases

Eighteen inmates and four remand centre staff areactive COVID cases

Christine Cornelius, department manager at Parkland Nurseries and Garden Centre, prepares seed racks at the Red Deer County shop. (By SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)
Central Alberta gardeners already buying seeds to prepare for spring

Potatoes and carrots popular choices for backyard gardens

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw announced 16 additional deaths Thursday. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
No easing of Alberta’s COVID-19 measures Thursday, 678 new COVID-19 cases

The province also hit 1,500 COVID-19 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic

Red Deer’s newest Waskasoo Park trail offers some bird’s-eye views of the city. It runs along the Highland Green escarpment, between Howarth Street Close and 60th Street. More information is available on reddeer.ca. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).
PHOTO: New Red Deer trail offers hikers a bird’s-eye view

It links Howarth Street Close with 60th Street

Gov. Gen. Julie Payette delivers the throne speech in the Senate chamber in Ottawa on Sept. 23, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Gov. Gen. Julie Payette resigns

OTTAWA — Gov. Gen. Julie Payette is resigning. The news comes as… Continue reading

Former Alberta Premier Rachel Notley shakes hands with Joel Ward, former Red Deer College President and CEO, as Notley announces that the college is on the path to grant degrees. Red Deer-South MLA Jason Stephan says university status is not a necessary condition for offering degrees. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Future of Red Deer University increasingly uncertain

MLA’s college update says RDC more like SAIT and NAIT than a university

Winnipeg Jets' Mark Scheifele, left, and Kyle Connor, right, congratulate Blake Wheeler on his goal during second period NHL action against the Ottawa Senators on Thursday, January 21, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Four different Jets score as Winnipeg beats the Ottawa Senators 4-1

Four different Jets score as Winnipeg beats the Ottawa Senators 4-1

Canes’ season paused, while Caps play on without 4 regulars

Canes’ season paused, while Caps play on without 4 regulars

Team Stecklein forward Allie Thunstrom (9) shoots against Team Szabados goalie Shannon Szabados in the NWHL All-Star Hockey Game Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Mark Humphrey
NWHL expansion Toronto Six head to Lake Placid women’s hockey bubble

NWHL expansion Toronto Six head to Lake Placid women’s hockey bubble

United States defender Aaron Long (23) and Canada forward Lucas Cavallini (19) battle for the ball during second half of CONCACAF Nations League soccer action in Toronto, Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston
Canadian men’s soccer team returns to action on weekend with scrimmage against U.S.

Canadian men’s soccer team returns to action on weekend with scrimmage against U.S.

FC Dallas forward Fafa Picault, left, steps into a kick as Nashville SC midfielder Alistair Johnston (12) defends during the first half of an MLS soccer match, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. A dozen Canadians are available in Thursday's slimmed-down MLS SuperDraft, reduced to three rounds from four this year. While the draft is not the pipeline it once was, the success of players like Johnston, taken 11th overall last year by expansion Nashville SC, show there are still success stories.THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Mark Humphrey
Whitecaps go international with Nigerian forward, Jamaican defender in MLS SuperDraft

Whitecaps go international with Nigerian forward, Jamaican defender in MLS SuperDraft

Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair responds to a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, Dec. 11, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
Report on Quebec woman murdered by offender on day parole calls for better oversight

Report on Quebec woman murdered by offender on day parole calls for better oversight

White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks with Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, during a press briefing in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Fauci unleashed: Doc takes ‘liberating’ turn at centre stage

Fauci unleashed: Doc takes ‘liberating’ turn at centre stage

A man wears a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as he walks past the emergency department of the Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver Wednesday, November 18, 2020.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Manitoba eases measures as COVID cases decline, but feds warn of severe illness rise

Manitoba eases measures as COVID cases decline, but feds warn of severe illness rise

Most Read