Premier Scott Moe says his pledge for a “strong and independent Saskatchewan” is related to increasing provincial autonomy and not separating from Confederation.
In his victory speech Monday night, Moe said his re-elected Saskatchewan Party “will always stand up for a strong and independent Saskatchewan. We will stand up for Saskatchewan because there is simply so much at stake.”
Moe said his use of the word “independent” was not a reference to separation.
The pro-independence Buffalo Party received 2.9 per cent of the vote among ballots counted as of Monday. The former Wexit Party got more votes than the Green Party, even though it ran 43 fewer candidates. The Buffalo Party finished second to the Saskatchewan Party in four ridings: Kindersley, Cypress Hills, Cannington and Estevan.
“This will be a government that will represent everyone in Saskatchewan, and that includes those that may have supported the [Buffalo Party] in rural areas of the province and may have some challenges with some of the initiatives that have come from our federal government,” Moe said Tuesday.
His party and the government are not in favour of separation from Canada, he said.
“No, I don’t support Saskatchewan separating from the nation of Canada. Most certainly not. Saskatchewan is a strong and independent province. But we also are a part of the nation of Canada.”
Separating from Canada wouldn’t solve “some of the challenges that we have,” Moe said.
Moe teases autonomy plan to come
The people of Saskatchewan will have to “wait a little bit” to see specifics on how the government will increase its autonomy, he said.
Last December, Moe floated the idea of creating a Saskatchewan Revenue Agency of sorts, and has approached the federal government about increasing the province’s control over immigration.
The Buffalo Party platform included proposed changes to the GST and PST, the Canada pension plan and the use of the RCMP.
In Alberta, the government appointed a “Fair Deal Panel” which recommended the province create its own provincial police force and hold a referendum on pulling out of the Canada Pension Plan. In response, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said his government would study the merits of both.
“It’s no secret the initiatives and the areas that people have been talking about across this nation,” said Moe.
“We’re going to have a very active look at how we can further enhance our independence, further enhance our economy, further enhance Saskatchewan to be able to really be taking care of ourselves to the degree that we can, but not separating from the nation of Canada.”
Wade Sira, leader of the Buffalo Party, told CBC earlier this month, “the federation, the foundation is cracked. But there’s a potential to fix it. And we want to at least try to fix it before we take drastic measures.”
“It’s not necessarily separation, but separation if necessary,” Sira said.
On Monday night, Sira said the election result was “absolutely great” for his party, which plans to hold a convention and work toward the 2024 election.
Plans to meet with caucus as soon as possible
Moe is wasting no time in getting his new caucus together, despite a few races that have yet to be determined.
CBC News did not project a winner on election night in eight of the 61 seats, because the margin was too small and mail-in ballots could swing a result.
Elections Saskatchewan will begin to count mail-in ballots on Wednesday.
As of Tuesday, 40,000 of the more than 61,000 that were requested had been returned.
Moe said he will not wait for a second count of the ballots on Nov. 7 to begin the government’s work.
He said that includes naming a new cabinet, a speech from the throne and planning a fall session.
As of Tuesday evening, the Sask. Party led the seat count with 50 to the NDP’s 11. At this point, the NDP has gained just one seat from its 2016 election result. The NDP held 13 seats at dissolution, after picking up three in byelections after the 2016 election.
As of Tuesday, the Sask. Party had returned 35 of 39 incumbents, with four incumbents awaiting mail-in results. One of those, Tina Beaudry-Mellor, was leading her race in Regina University by 178 votes after Monday’s count. Beaudry-Mellor is the lone cabinet minister who has not yet secured her re-election.
Another incumbent awaiting mail-in ballot results is NDP Leader Ryan Meili, who trailed in Saskatoon Meewasin to Rylund Hunter of the Sask. Party by 83 votes as of Monday.