Ex­plor­ing the ins and outs of bud­get day

Regina Leader-Post - - FRONT PAGE - D.C. FRASER dfraser@postmedia.com twit­ter.com/dcfraser

Saskatchewan politics is filled with ran­dom events not mak­ing any head­lines. In this weekly fea­ture, po­lit­i­cal re­porter D.C. Fraser shares some of those sto­ries.

HUM­BOLDT MEMORIAL

A memorial for the Hum­boldt Bron­cos was set up in the ro­tunda at the Leg­isla­tive Build­ing last week. I be­lieve it was tem­po­rar­ily re­moved for bud­get day ( be­cause space is a premium as a ton of peo­ple are in at­ten­dance), but it has been pretty touch­ing this week to see mem­bers of the pub­lic com­ing in to sign a con­do­lence book.

Given the tragedy, this year’s bud­get day had a bit of a dif­fer­ent tone to it and much of the cer­e­mony was re­moved from the pro­ceed­ings.

SASK. PARTY STAFFERS FOL­LOW AROUND NDP MLAS ON BUD­GET DAY

Af­ter the bud­get is read, the ro­tunda fills up with me­dia, politi­cians and stake­hold­ers. Min­is­te­rial as­sis­tants work­ing for the Saskatchewan Party gov­ern­ment are as­signed to cer­tain stake­hold­ers or NDP MLAs, to lit­er­ally fol­low them around, record­ing con­ver­sa­tions they are hav­ing with me­dia.

It al­ways seems a lit­tle strange, but this year was par­tic­u­larly funny be­cause a cou­ple of NDP MLAs took to in­tro­duc­ing their “tails” to those with whom they were talk­ing. I also had to in­form a few of the peo­ple record­ing that I was hav­ing a pri­vate con­ver­sa­tion and they were not wel­come to record, which is a slightly awk­ward thing to have to do.

SHORT TECH BRIEF­ING

As men­tioned last week in this space, the morn­ing of the bud­get a tech brief­ing is held with Fi­nance Min­istry of­fi­cials. It al­lows jour­nal­ists an op­por­tu­nity to ask nitty-gritty de­tail ques­tions about the bud­get, which in turn al­lows us to bet­ter in­form the pub­lic about how the gov­ern­ment is spend­ing tax­payer dol­lars.

This year, the tech brief­ing ques­tion and an­swer por­tion was 20 min­utes. I was told by one com­mu­ni­ca­tions of­fi­cial that was the “long­est” tech brief­ing I’d ever been a part of, but I don’t be­lieve that to be cor­rect. Un­der for­mer premier Brad Wall, the ques­tion and an­swer seg­ment lasted at least 25 to 30 min­utes. And for over­all con­text, a 2016 me­dia tech brief­ing on changes in So­cial Ser­vices lasted over an hour.

COOLEST MLA VE­HI­CLE

If you drive by the Leg­isla­tive Build­ing dur­ing ses­sion, you’re bound to see some nice rides. Wall was a well-known car en­thu­si­ast, and his rides would of­ten be parked out front. With him gone, the crown for best ve­hi­cle is up for grabs so I took it upon my­self to com­mit some very se­ri­ous jour­nal­ism and ask MLAs which of their col­leagues has the best wheels.

York­ton MLA Greg Ot­ten­breit’s 1972 Rally Nova got some love. Regina-Univer­sity MLA Tina Beaudry Mel­lor’s Jeep Ru­bi­con had some votes. David Forbes, who rep­re­sents the folks in Saskatoon Cen­tre, drives a 2004 Toy­ota Prius that is clos­ing in on 500,000 kilo­me­tres — its longevity alone is pretty cool.

Saskatchewan Rivers’ MLA Na­dine Wil­son’s 1998 Jaguar XJ8 4-door sedan got a lot of votes from her col­leagues. So, there were sev­eral con­tenders — even be­fore At­tor­ney Gen­eral Don Mor­gan put his tongue in his cheek and sug­gested one of his wife’s two Mazda Mi­atas.

I was at a loss of who to crown, so I turned to the one per­son I could think of: Brad Wall. He sent back a fairly com­pre­hen­sive list that in­cluded shout-outs to Ot­ten­breit’s Nova, Moose Jaw North MLA War­ren Michel­son’s 1965 Pon­tiac Parisi­enne, Lums­den-Morse MLA Lyle Ste­wart’s 1971 Shoe­box Ford and Swift Cur­rent MLA Everett Hind­ley’s 1981 Porsche 911.

His sug­ges­tions only made the de­ci­sion harder, but I am a sucker for Jags and while I didn’t ac­tu­ally track votes, I be­lieve Wil­son’s ve­hi­cle was men­tioned the most. Also as far as I know, Wil­son’s XJ8 is her daily driver — also cool. Con­grat­u­la­tions on this very im­por­tant ti­tle!

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