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Sask. NDP asking premier to show results of India trip, other foreign travels

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The Saskatchewan NDP are demanding to see what the province has gained from Premier Scott Moe’s foreign travels.

The Official Opposition is raising the question as Moe wrapped up his third visit to India since becoming premier.

According to the NDP, Moe has made 18 international trips since 2018 – which costed taxpayers a total of $557,000. This does not include his recent trips to India and to Dubai for the COP28 conference.

“Trade is incredibly important to Saskatchewan. However, when we have a premier who's taken 18 trips on the public dime, five figure trips, I think it is eminently reasonable to ask for some results,” NDP Trade and Export Development Critic Aleana Young told CTV News.

Over the course of his weeklong trip to India, Moe posted pictures of his meetings with Indian cabinet ministers.

The photos show former Prime Minister Stephen Harper accompanied Saskatchewan’s delegation as a consultant.

“We’ve spent another million dollars over the past four years with Harper and Associates. And I believe this is former Prime Minister Harper's second trip to India with the Premier,” Young added. “I think it's only right that there's some answers to questions. Is the premier traveling with the former prime minister or is he traveling for trade?”

According to public accounts, the Government of Saskatchewan has paid the former prime minister’s consulting firm a total of $840,000 since 2019.

In a written response to CTV News on Monday, the government argued that trade missions like Moe’s most recent India trip are economically essential for Saskatchewan.

“Premier Moe and other Ministers undertake trade missions to maintain and enhance Saskatchewan's relationship with our export customers,” the statement read.

“Promoting Saskatchewan on a world stage and maintaining strong relationships with our international trade partners is crucial for the success of our export-based economy.”

The province went on to claim its trade missions were responsible for increasing Saskatchewan’s annual exports from $30.7 billion in 2018 to $49.2 billion in 2023 – a boost of 60.5 per cent.

Striking back at the opposition’s criticism, the province claimed out-of-province travel for cabinet ministers cost taxpayers $384,000 in the last available fiscal year – while NDP cabinet ministers spent $978,000 over 131 trips the last time the party was in power.

The Saskatchewan NDP last held power in 2007. No member of the current NDP caucus served as a cabinet minister in that government.

The province’s public accounts for 2022-23 show that $384,000 was spent on ministerial travel in that time frame.

Overall, public disclosure documents show that out-of-province travel from April 1, 2022 to March 31, 2023 cost taxpayers $625,123.

The disclosures include the cost of the entire delegation, not just the minister’s expenses.

In total, the government conducted 54 trips, nine of which included the premier.

According to the province, one third of Saskatchewan jobs are directly tied to industries reliant on trade.

In the past year, Saskatchewan exported over $1.3 billion in goods to India – which accounted for 26 per cent of Canada’s total exports to the subcontinent.

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