Meet the Leaders: Scott Moe, Saskatchewan Party
REGINA -- Scott Moe is on the campaign trail for the first time as the leader of a political party, after replacing Brad Wall as the leader of the Saskatchewan Party.
CTV News Regina Anchor Lee Jones sat down with Moe ahead of the vote on Oct. 26, to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic, the economy and green energy projects.
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Below is a partial transcript of the interview edited for clarity and conciseness with the full sit-down available here.
CTV News: Is there a point where this government would consider, if you are elected, taking back a bit of the economy or doing some shutdowns, or maybe mandatory masks?
Moe: I think it's incumbent on us to look at other areas of the nation where numbers have climbed, and they are climbing a little bit here as well in Saskatchewan. It just takes a few people that are operating outside of the public health guidelines and recommendations to really create a problem for for the rest of the province, and the vast majority is doing the right thing. We're changing our operating each and every day and we have had collective success with that and we need to revaluate that right now to ensure that we are doing everything we can to continue to keep these numbers low.
As we move forward with these numbers continuing to rise, Dr. Shahab put out a couple of thresholds the other day: 60 [cases] a day for a number of days and maybe up to 120 [cases] a day. That would be when we have to really look at changing some of what we're doing.
But we do understand this virus better and we are able to really focus in on where the challenges are. For example, we've had a couple of outbreaks with nightclubs, we don't need to address all the nightclubs in the province, we need to address the ones that are operating outside of the public health parameters. So no broad based shut downs I think would be considered, but we would really focus in on where the challenges are.
BALANCING THE BUDGET
CTV News: How will you be able to balance the budget by 2024 without raising taxes, or as the NDP is claiming, making cuts to programs?
Moe: The only thing we're going to cut are people's power bills for a year and maybe some taxes for the course of the next couple of years. I think the first thing to remember it is important to balance the budget so that the investments that we're making in schools and highways, in hospitals and health care can continue for generations into the future. It only can continue if we do have a structurally sound set of finances here in the province and they are.
We were third in the country in our debt to GDP going into this pandemic. Today we are second in the country and they are predicting, as we exit this pandemic, whenever that is, that Saskatchewan likely will lead the country with the lowest debt to GDP ratio.
So our finances are strong, they're structurally sound, the commitments that we were making throughout this campaign are a: to improve the affordability for families and b: to foster an economic recovery and many of them - most of them - do phase out over the course of the next three years. So as we recover and grow the economy here in Saskatchewan, so will we recover and grow the provincial finances, get back to that structurally sound fiscal situation that we have and balanced the budget by 2024. That is the target, that is the goal and that is the intent of this party if we have the honour to form government on the 26.
RENEWABLE ENERGY PROJECTS
CTV News: Saskatchewan has seen recent commitments to green energy, through wind power and geothermal projects. What more could this province do in terms of renewable energy?
Moe: We’re looking at some solar projects, right now. I know SaskPower has been looking very seriously at some very large solar projects here in the province as well. As we move through the next number of years, small modular reactors (SMR) that is the new clean nuclear power and something that Saskatchewan is looking at. We have been active in a memorandum of understanding with Ontario and with New Brunswick, Alberta is also going to join that memorandum of understanding. If we truly are going to bend our emissions curve in this nation as we move forward, nuclear is going to be part of that conversation.
The SMR conversation fits very well for Saskatchewan, as we have the uranium here, and we also have the opportunity then to size the reactors to the size that we may need in different areas of the province. [There are] great things being done, not only in the electrical generation field here in Saskatchewan, it's geothermal, carbon capture, as well as the wind project out at Assiniboia.
[There are] great things happening also in industries like agriculture, the energy industry, even our manufacturing industry. Innovation is the way the world is going to fight climate change and Saskatchewan is already very much part of the leading edge of that conversation.
CTV News: If you do form government in the coming election, what is one piece of legislation or one bill or one item that you really want to tackle as soon as you get back in the house?
Moe: Well you know as soon as we get back into the legislature we're going to focus in very much on fostering that economic recovery here in Saskatchewan. It's already underway, we have the lowest unemployment rate, our retail sales announced this week are up year over year, the August numbers were ahead of the national average. The recovery is underway.
But we most certainly need to foster that economic recovery as it is very fragile, not just in Saskatchewan, but across Canada and around the world, and that is ultimately how we are going to ensure that we are able to get back to work in our communities and start to not only recover the economy but provide the opportunity for growth and provide the opportunity for us to get back on track with some of the targets that we have had in the Saskatchewan plan for growth, growing our communities, growing our opportunity.
And ultimately, creating that opportunity for that next generation of children to stay right here in the province of Saskatchewan. That’s the North Star for the Saskatchewan party, always has been and will continue to be.
Head to CTV News Regina’s Election page for continuing coverage of the campaign leading up to election night on Oct. 26.