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Friday, 20 October 2017 12:52

Saskatchewan Party leadership candidates want to continue Brad Wall’s legacy

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All five Saskatchewan Party leadership candidates emphasized the need to continue Brad Wall's legacy at their first debate in Swift Current, Oct. 19.

Tina Beaudry-Mellor, Ken Cheveldayoff, Alanna Koch, Scott Moe and Gord Wyant had their first opportunity to speak to party members at the first of six debates.
The event was attended by Saskatchewan MLA and Premier Brad Wall, who will be retiring from politics after party members elect their new leader at a leadership convention in Saskatoon on Jan. 27, 2018.
Wall offered greetings at the start of the meeting and he received a standing ovation from party members. His name came up regularly throughout the evening, with leadership candidates referring to his role during the past 10 years and their commitment to continue his legacy.
“I think we’re all indebted to Brad Wall for what he’s done for us for the last 10 years,” Koch said in her concluding remarks. “We need to be focused on growth, the path that we are on, build on that path, keep us strong.”
The leadership debate started with opening remarks by the leadership contenders. Thereafter the moderator asked 10 questions, which were submitted by party members, and the candidates had an opportunity to respond to each question. The candidates were not told in advance what the questions were going to be.
These questions covered a variety of topics. Candidates were asked if they would continue the provincial sales tax on insurance premiums, how they would deal with the provincial deficit, their position on government funding of provincial parks, and their policy on First Nations issues.
Each candidate was asked to identify their top three core values. They were asked what they would do to combat the problem of impaired driving, for their views on the legalization of marijuana, and if they would allocate more funding in the provincial budget to mental health programs.
They were asked how they will approach the provincial government's relationship with the federal government, and what they would do to ensure party unity after this leadership debate.
Wyant felt the leadership race is a great opportunity for renewal within the Saskatchewan Party.
“Now the question the party members have to ask themselves is who can best unite the Saskatchewan Party voters and our party to defeat the NDP,” he said.
Cheveldayoff felt this leadership race is the launch of the future of a renewed Saskatchewan Party.
“Have we made errors as a party,” he asked. “Are there any perfect parties? What is important is, have we learned from our mistakes so we could be even better at leading.”
Moe and Beaudry-Mellor emphasized the need to look ahead to the challenge of defeating the Saskatchewan NDP in the next provincial election in 2020.
“The leadership race is round one in the playoffs, but the general election in 2020 is our Stanley Cup final,” Moe said. “I believe it’s my team that puts us in the best position in that general election in 2020.”
Beaudry-Mellor referred to the recent by-election victories of the Saskatchewan NDP in two Saskatoon ridings.
“Your next premier needs to turn this momentum around and it won’t be easy,” she said. “We need someone who know how to win the election in 2020 and 2024 and how to take back and keep our urban seats. That, ladies and gentlemen, is your leadership ballot question.”

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Matthew Liebenberg