With the writ dropped, it has officially become Campaign Season in the province of Saskatchewan and politicians from all parties have taken to the road to visit doorsteps and speak with citizens in communities all over in the hopes of securing your vote in just a little over two weeks.
Saskatchewan Party leader Scott Moe seemed to hit the ground running when the campaign began last week as he visited the town of Davidson on Wednesday afternoon, September 30 to help support his party’s candidate in the Arm River constituency, Dana Skoropad. The constituency includes the town of Outlook as well as neighboring communities on the east side of the South Saskatchewan River.
Upon Moe’s arrival, he was greeted by Skoropad outside of the candidate’s Washington Avenue campaign office as well as a handful of people who maintained a social distance, discussing how the campaign had been going so far and touching on some of his vision for the province should the Saskatchewan Party be re-elected.
When things moved into the campaign office, those wishing to speaking to Moe were brought in in small groups due to the modest size of the location.
Moe’s afternoon appearance came on the brink of his announcement earlier that day of a Home Renovation Tax Credit, the Sask Party’s first campaign commitment which Moe says will make renovations more affordable and help drive the province’s economic recovery.
Under the credit, the Sask Party says homeowners would be able to claim a 10.5% tax credit on up to $20,000 of eligible home renovation expenses incurred between October 1, 2020 and December 31, 2022, saving them up to $2100. Eligible expenses would include permanent additions to the home but wouldn’t include items like furniture, appliances, hot tubs, tools or maintenance like carpet or furnace cleaning. The new program would cost an estimated $124 million over two years.
On the same day as Moe’s announcement of the renovation credit, the Saskatchewan NDP leader Ryan Meili made his own campaign commitment related to taxes – a wealth tax of 1% on those with a net worth of over $15 million that the NDP says would “bring tax fairness to Saskatchewan”. According to the NDP, this measure would bring in $120 million annually to the General Revenue Fund to help pay for measures such as safer schools and smaller class sizes, as well as expanding home care to help seniors stay at home.
“Under Scott Moe and the Sask. Party, life is getting harder. Even before the pandemic hit, people were feeling stretched and stressed,” said Meili in a media release. “They want to tell you there are no options – that we have to settle for four more years of austerity, which means deep cuts to health care and education. That’s not right. It’s time for a tax plan that puts people first – not the Sask. Party’s old boys’ club.”
Sask Party leader Moe touched on the irony of the two parties making announcements related to taxes on the same day.
“It’s not lost on me that on Day 1 of the campaign, the Saskatchewan Party goes out with the Home Renovation Tax Credit – a tax incentive and tax reduction – and the NDP come out with a tax increase,” said Moe, speaking with The Outlook. “We’ve said all along, this is the NDP’s M.O.; they move exactly like their federal leader does, Jagmeet Singh. They are going to increase taxes on Saskatchewan people, that’s the only way they’re going to be able to afford the reckless spending that they are putting forward, not only in this campaign, but in putting forward over the course of the last number of months. So, the Sask Party is reducing taxes and NDP is increasing them.”
Moe says he doesn’t like to make predictions on how elections turn out, but noted that this provincial election will show Saskatchewan residents that one party is highlighting its previous accomplishments while another party will try to sweep its past under the proverbial rug.
“I don’t try to predict what’s going to happen in this election,” said Scott. “What we’re doing is working with each of our 61 candidates, including Dana today in Arm River, and working with each of our candidates and their teams to engage with voters across the province and humbly ask for their support. Yes, it’s for a fourth term government and yes, it’s the first term where I would be the leader of the party, but we most certainly have a vision for the people, the economy and opportunities in our communities, and we have a record; we have a strong record that we will run on and as I’ve said many times during this campaign, you’re going to see one party that will run *on* their record and you’ll see another party – the NDP party – that will run *from* their record, and that is what we’ll see over the course of the next number of days.”
Moe was declared the leader of the Saskatchewan Party in January 2018 following the departure of long-time leader and former Premier, Brad Wall. With this being the first official election since Wall’s exit, Moe says he has had conversations with the former leader and advice has been shared as Scott looks to secure the confidence of Saskatchewan residents.
“Oh, absolutely,” said Moe, when asked if Wall had given him any advice for the election. “I’ve reached out, as well. There were some impactful things that happened, and not just an election campaign but even in our time in governing. I reached out to Brad the other day before visiting the Lieutenant Governor, and it’s a truly humbling experience to go to the Lieutenant Governor and ask for him to dissolve the Legislative Assembly and go into the writ period. Now, in saying that, campaigns are fun and campaigns are very focused. We’re truly happy to be here today with Dana and we’re really excited to spend a little more time in communities over the course of this month and engaging with people across the province and asking for their support for their local Saskatchewan Party candidate.”
With this provincial election taking place during the COVID-19 pandemic, already uniquely cementing itself in the history books in that regard, Moe is confident that all measures are in place for constituents to make their vote count.
“I don’t know what the result will be, but I know that there has been a tremendous amount of effort put in and led by our Chief Electoral Officer on ensuring that the election can be ran safely,” he said. “We saw that happen in New Brunswick, and we’ll see that happen in British Columbia as their election is two days before ours, and so ours will be the third election. I also don’t know that it’ll be the last election that we’ll have in a pandemic, but rest assured, the effort has gone in to this election by all involved to ensure that we could put forward the metrics for a safe election. There is always the opportunity as well for people to visit the advance polls, which would cut down the number of people on Election Day in the polls, and I encourage people to do that.”
Saskatchewan goes to the polls on Monday, October 26.