‘I’m happy with Scott Moe’

Mayor gives warm re­cep­tion to Sask. Party can­di­date

Prince Albert Daily Herald - - FRONT PAGE - ARTHUR WHITE-CRUMMEY

Mayor Greg Dionne stopped just short of en­dors­ing Scott Moe for Saskatchewan Party leader, af­ter meet­ing the can­di­date dur­ing a cam­paign visit Mon­day.

Dur­ing their talk, Moe re­it­er­ated his sup­port for fully fund­ing a new re­gional hospi­tal in Prince Al­bert – as soon as the prov­ince gets its fi­nances back in or­der.

Dionne was ob­vi­ously pleased with that com­mit­ment. He de­clined to of­fi­cially en­dorse Moe, but said he’s strongly lean­ing in the for­mer en­vi­ron­ment min­is­ter’s di­rec­tion.

“It’s al­ways best to sup­port the per­son in your back­yard,” Dionne said of the Ros­th­ern-Shell­brook MLA. “I’m happy with Scott Moe.”

The mayor said that Moe is the only one who has made such a strong pledge to fund the hospi­tal. He also has a soft spot for Gor­don Wyant, who he said “hasn’t ever done me wrong.” But Moe has an “ad­van­tage” over the other can­di­dates, since he fre­quently at­tends meet­ings to dis­cuss lo­cal is­sues.

“He’s well versed on our city,” Dionne said.

Moe again raised the hospi­tal is­sue dur­ing a stop at the Daily Her­ald of­fices, say­ing peo­ple across the re­gion are push­ing for a new hospi­tal. He said pa­tients from his home com­mu­nity of Shell­brook, and from the prov­ince’s north, rely on Prince Al­bert for health care.

“What we’re com­mit­ting to is not a time­line, but an ef­fort to en­sure the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment would fund 100 per cent of that fa­cil­ity here in Prince Al­bert,” Moe said. “Now, the prov­ince has some work to do to en­sure we get back to bal­ance and get our­selves in good fis­cal health, so we’re able to make in­vest­ments.

“It would be what I would ad­vo­cate for as premier.”

Moe wasn’t pre­pared to come down as firmly on Prince Al­bert’s other big in­fra­struc­ture de­bate: a se­cond bridge over the North Saskatchewan River. He said the cur­rent bridge is now in good con­di­tion. He would pre­fer to min­i­mize dis­rup­tions and keep all four lanes open as of­ten as pos­si­ble.

“Nev­er­the­less, as we grow as a re­gion and as a city we al­ways have to have those dis­cus­sion about in­fra­struc­ture, such as another bridge in the fu­ture,” the can­di­date said.

On the econ­omy, Moe ar­gued that his fo­cus on ex­port-driven growth will ben­e­fit Prince Al­bert. The city is still lag­ging be­hind the nascent re­cov­ery creep­ing across the rest of the prov­ince. But Moe said he sees bright spots in new projects around Prince Al­bert and other “for­est fringe” com­mu­ni­ties.

“There are all sorts of op­por­tu­ni­ties in the forestry in­dus­try,” he said. “We’ve seen a ma­jor ex­pan­sion at the plant over in Car­rot River in the last year.”

He said a Moe gov­ern­ment would carry on the Saskatchewan Party’s com­mit­ment to open mar­kets, cre­at­ing a min­is­ter of ex­port and trade to seek out op­por­tu­ni­ties all over the world. He ac­knowl­edged that com­mod­ity prices have sunk in re­cent years, and hoped for a re­turn to “sta­bil­ity.”

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion could present a chal­lenge to Moe’s free-trade credo, es­pe­cially as NAFTA ne­go­ti­a­tions con­tinue to hit road­blocks. Moe said Saskatchewan is “al­ways pay­ing at­ten­tion” to trade ne­go­ti­a­tions. But he said the prov­ince is see­ing suc­cess in di­ver­si­fy­ing its ex­port part­ners, sell­ing bil­lions of dol­lars in prod­ucts to places like China, In­done­sia and the Euro­pean Union.

“Our in­dus­tries can com­pete with any­one around the world,” he said. “We’ve been prov­ing that.”

Moe ad­mit­ted that peo­ple of­ten say the five Saskatchewan Party lead­er­ship can­di­dates “agree too much.” And Moe seemed to agree whole­heart­edly with the tough-on-Ot­tawa tone that’s reared up through­out the cam­paign. He be­gan by lam­bast­ing the feds’ pro­posed car­bon tax, be­fore lend­ing a nu­anced en­dorse­ment to Gor­don Wyant’s re­cent cri­tique of Canada’s equal­iza­tion for­mula.

“Saskatchewan peo­ple are gen­er­ous, and we will share our wealth when we’re able to,” he said. “But we’re not fool­ish, and it is time for us to have a dis­cus­sion about how we share that wealth with the rest of the na­tion of Canada.”

Like Wyant, he blames the prov­inces who re­ceive equal­iza­tion for block­ing Saskatchewan’s de­vel­op­ment. He said our land­locked prov­ince is “be­holden” to port prov­inces, like Que­bec, who’ve stood in the way of pipe­lines that could ex­pand Saskatchewan’s en­ergy ex­ports.

“That’s not the way Canada was in­tended to op­er­ate,” he said. “We need to be able to trans­fer our en­ergy out through pipe­lines, be­cause, quite frankly, we need our rail ca­pac­ity for other prod­ucts.”

Wyant has sug­gested the pipe­line im­passe could threaten na­tional unity. Moe held back a bit on that, say­ing that no prov­ince should start by rais­ing the na­tional unity ques­tion. He said diplo­macy should come first, then “ac­tion.”

“We need to have a con­ver­sa­tion about how we share our wealth with the rest of the na­tion,” Moe said. “If we’re not able to come to an agree­ment with the fed­eral gov­ern­ment, then we have to have fur­ther ac­tion on that.”

“Saskatchewan peo­ple are gen­er­ous, and we will share our wealth when we’re able to. But we’re not fool­ish.” Ros­th­ern Shell­brook MLA Scott Moe

JA­SON KERR/DAILY HER­ALD

Scott Moe at Thurs­day’s lead­er­ship de­bate in Melfort.

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