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Thursday, 01 February 2018 10:10

Moe takes the reins of the Sask. Party

Written by  Jordan Twiss —News Editor, Shellbrook Chronicle
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Brad Wall congratulates Scott Moe. Brad Wall congratulates Scott Moe. Jordan Twiss

It took five months of campaigning, and five ballots.

But after all was said and done, Rosthern-Shellbrook MLA and former environment minister, Scott Moe, shocked the province by being selected as the leader of the Saskatchewan Party, and Saskatchewan’s new premier.
Nowhere was the surprise more palpable than at  the Sask. Party Leadership Convention, held at Saskatoon’s Praireland Park Jan. 27, where more than 2,000 party members gathered to celebrate, and greet the man or woman who would be selected to lead the Sask. Party into the post-Brad Wall era.
Moe’s victory, which saw him garner 8,075 votes (or 53.9 per cent of the vote), defied the predictions of pollsters, which, in the week leading into the convention, had Moe pegged as a distant third place finisher, behind fellow leadership candidates Ken Cheveldayoff, and Alanna Koch. It was also a come-from-behind victory, as Moe trailed Koch by fewer than 50 votes after the results of the first ballot were read, with Cheveldayoff a close but unexpected third, Gordon Wyant in fourth place, and Tina Beaudry-Mellor a distant fifth.
However, once Beaudry-Mellor and Wyant were removed from the running after the second and third ballots, respectively, Moe surged into the lead. And Cheveldayoff’s elimination from leadership contention after the fourth ballot results were revealed, gave Moe the push he needed to take the place of the outgoing Premier Wall, who officially retired from politics on Jan. 31.
In the end, Moe topped Koch, who was deputy minister to Premier Wall before taking a leave of absence to run for the Sask. Party leadership, by just 1,161 votes in the fifth and deciding ballot.
But while the closeness of the race sparked questions about division within the party, Moe was quick to silence any doubt, and said that he, his fellow candidates, and the party, would be united going forward.
“We are stronger and more unified than ever before,” he said in his victory speech.“I am truly humbled to be a part of this team, and by the trust that you have placed in me to lead this party, and this province, into the future.”
Moe launched his bid for the Sask. Party leadership Sept. 1, 2017, with the support of 21 of his fellow MLAs, and a promise to “stand with Saskatchewan” – a promise he reiterated many times throughout the campaign, and at the leadership convention.
His platform included promises to balance the budget by 2019, restore PST exemptions on crop, health, and life insurance, and establish a ministry of international trade and exports, which will be responsible for growing Saskatchewan’s presence in markets around the world.
However, in a media scrum with reporters following his victory, Moe said his first priority upon returning to Regina would be to get up to speed on budget talks, and look to implement his promise on PST exemptions, and a separate promise to spend $30 million to put 400 educational assistants in classrooms across the province.
Moe added that he’d also be looking at the policy platforms of his fellow candidates, to see if any can be implemented by his government going.
Most notable, however, was Moe’s vow to continue leading the province’s stand against the federal carbon tax being imposed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government – even if it means taking the feds to court.
“I will fight for this province. I will fight for our economy to ensure that we do not have a carbon tax, “ he said. “Justin Trudeau, if you’re wondering how far I will go, just watch me.”
Wall fires parting shots
Many of Moe’s statements echoed ones made by Premier Wall in his final address to the party at Saturday’s convention. Defiant in his exit as he was in his final years as leader of the Sask. Party, Wall began by imploring the party to unite in the aftermath of the leadership race, and face the challenges that lie ahead. Namely, the 2020 general election.
“It is important that the state of the party be strong tonight because of what lies ahead, because of what we will need to do in the future, and because of what we will need to do on behalf of the province in 2020,” he said.
From there, Wall used his 30-minute address to fire parting shots at the opposition: the opposition NDP in Saskatchewan, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley’s NDP government, and the federal government.
Taking aim at the feds first, Wall said the Sask. Party would continue its opposition to the federal carbon tax, and that it wouldn’t seek approval from Ottawa on its Made-in-Saskatchewan strategy to combat climate change, or any other policies.
“We don’t work for the feds. This party works for the people of Saskatchewan,” he said.
Turning to the Saskatchewan NDP next, Wall denounced the party’s cynicism about the province’s future prospects, and its discomfort with the province’s reliance on the oil and gas, and mining sectors.
He added that, going forward, the Sask. Party must continue to be the party of hope and optimism.
“If we come out of this convention today… if we come out humble and hard-working and disciplined, offering a vision and a program worthy of this great province, if we come out of here united behind a leader, well, then hope wins,” he said. “Because this is the new Saskatchewan, and hope wins here.”

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