Exploring the ins and outs of budget day
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.
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!