Yesterday, Saskatchewan’s Lieutenant Governor, Russ Mirasty, delivered the Speech from the Throne outlining the government’s goals, objectives, and priorities as they kick off the fall legislative session.
In the weeks leading up to the speech and with the highest polling among Canada’s Premiers, Premier Scott Moe had indicated his intent to seek more provincial autonomy over provincial resources, immigration, and trade. Earlier this month, Moe released his government’s white paper on federal intrusion into provincial affairs, titled “Drawing the Line: Defending Saskatchewan’s Economic Autonomy.” The paper includes provincial plans to pursue greater autonomy in immigration and tax collection as well as introduce legislation to protect the province’s constitutional rights. A significant portion of the Throne Speech laid out a legislative agenda to do just that.
After a tribute to victims of the James Smith Cree Nation attacks and Queen Elizabeth II, Mirasty highlighted successful government initiatives and harmful federal policies. The speech largely focused on economic growth, provincial autonomy, and a made-in-Saskatchewan approach to address local issues. Under the banner of “Growth That Works for Everyone,” Mirasty outlined the government’s key priorities, including:
- Introducing The Saskatchewan First Act, to define and defend Saskatchewan’s exclusive jurisdiction over natural resources and its economic future within the Canadian Constitution
- Amending the province’s Constitution by amending The Saskatchewan Act to state that Saskatchewan continues to retain exclusive jurisdiction over its natural resources
- Continuing to press for greater provincial control over immigration, as has long been guaranteed to Quebec
- Introducing legislation enabling Saskatchewan to collect its own corporate income tax (like Alberta and Quebec)
- Continued expansion of rural internet service by SaskTel
- Development of 700 more megawatts of wind and solar power generation in south-central Saskatchewan by SaskPower
- Partnering on two First Nations solar projects
- Continued planning for small modular nuclear reactors, with Estevan and Elbow, identified as potential sites
- Creation of a made-in-Saskatchewan carbon offset credit program, and
- Opening of a new Saskatchewan trade office in Germany, joining trade offices in eight other countries that do significant business with Saskatchewan
- Legislation to allow municipalities to designate areas for the safe consumption of alcohol in parks; and
- Exiting the retail liquor market and expanding opportunities for independent retailers.
The Throne Speech also contained several measures to enhance public safety and reduce crime. These include:
- Creation of the Saskatchewan Marshalls Service to work with the RCMP and other police services to enhance law enforcement throughout the province;
- Adding eight new officers to the Warrant Enforcement and Suppression Team in Prince Albert;
- Adding a new Crime Reduction Team in North Battleford;
- Continuing discussions with the Prince Albert Grand Council and the federal government about the creation of a self-administered First Nations police services; and
- Continuing to crack down on the illegal use of firearms while at the same time defending the rights of lawful and law-abiding gun owners.
This new session will mark the first for Carla Beck as Opposition Leader since winning the leadership in May and for newly elected Saskatoon-Meewasin NDP MLA Nathaniel Teed, who won the by-election in September. After a summer of party disagreements and a by-election win, it is expected the New Democrats will focus this session on familiar themes they have pushed during the summer months; affordability, healthcare system pressures, and emergency room wait times.
It was only a few short weeks ago the Saskatchewan NDP canceled plans to invite their federal leader, Jagmeet Singh, to its convention following a debate over whether the federal party is hurting the provincial party’s electoral success. The provincial party will keep working to attract new voters by distancing themselves from their federal counterparts on key positions, including resource development, pipelines, and standing up for Saskatchewan’s interests- the very areas Moe plans to pursue this fall session. Beck may finally need to choose between aligning with her federal counterparts or aligning with Moe.
What You Need To Know
With Moe flying high in the polls, he will quickly begin work on priorities he has identified as critical to Saskatchewan’s success and, more importantly – to his voters. It will be full steam ahead for a government eager to ride the high revenue, low employment wave and deliver on today’s promises.
You can read the Government of Saskatchewan’s News Release and Throne Speech here.
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