© Scott Anderson
Premier Brad Wall kicked off a long series of SaskParty nominating meetings by being acclaimed on March 20 as the party's nominated candidate in the Swift Current constituency.
Saskatchewan Party leader Premier Brad Wall has kicked off a busy series of SaskParty nominating meetings by being acclaimed on March 20 as the party's nominated candidate in the Swift Current constituency.
Wall continued his tradition of begin the first nominated SaskParty candidate as the SaskParty begins to get organized politically for the next provincial election expected in 2016. The SaskParty will be holding an additional 60 nominating meeting across the province this year, including a scheduled 10 during April.
First elected in 1999, Wall will be seeking his third mandate as Saskatchewan's Premier, and he highlighted there is still work to be done both in Swift Current and in Saskatchewan.
"Really we've got to make sure we get that long term care centre built and completed here. This is going to be a special place. We've had the front line staff involved, in part by the way because of LEAN, which has gotten some attention lately. We've had the front line staff helping to design it. I think it's the right size in terms of beds," Wall said on Thursday after his nomination meeting at the Home Inn and Suites.
"I think there's some other important developments in healthcare that can happen here. There are other important infrastructure project I'd like to be a part of as the MLA working with the City of Swift Current. There are some Economic Development related things that might come down the road, I'd like to be a part of those as well."
Wall also pointed to the growth opportunities in the Southwest he would like to see continue.
"I think there's still a great deal of opportunity in the oil and gas side in the Southwest. Some of the new technologies are really opening up these fields that have already been producing for a long time, but tighter plays that can perhaps even produce a little bit more in the right conditions," Wall said during in nomination meeting address. "Agriculture is a rock star in the economy today - if we could just get the grain moving to port to our customers. And that'll come. But we've seen agriculture and the ascendancy here not just because of commodity prices, but farmers and ranchers are just getting better and better and better at what they do. The best in the world and that means yields are better and our production's better. So I'd like to be a part of creating the right environment for agriculture to continue to lead as it is."
Wall's nomination meeting came a day after the provincial budget was tabled, and he reflected that his government continues to pave the way for growth in Saskatchewan.
"I think the province is on the right track now. Credit the people of Saskatchewan, but the province is on the right track. We want to do what we can to create the right environment for growth. But also remember that the reason for growth in the first place is so that we can have a broad enough tax base to invest in people, to improve quality of life. And that will be the formula that we're going to work on until the people say that they've had enough of us."
"Some even said about the budget it seemed a little boring and predictable. And I said that's a good thing. If steady growth is becoming predictable and the norm in the province, I'll take it. If balanced budgets are the norm, but ones that still make strategic investments in people and healthcare and education and the disabled, if that's the norm, I'll take it. "There's probably not going to be a lot of new. If people are thinking that the Saskatchewan Party is going to promise a completely different set of ideas, they might be disappointed."
This was also the first Saskatchewan budget presented with a summary focus, as recommended by the Provincial Auditor
"The Auditor has wanted us to go to this, and now we have and I think people are realizing well that's a lot of information. We've got to make sure we're reporting the specifics so they'll know are we managing the money like we should be and how much is going into these specific areas."
"Obviously that's a bigger picture, but maybe not as clear on the specifics of is money coming into the government equal to going out. In other words is the operational account balanced."
Wall told the crowd of 50 people at his nominating meeting that Saskatchewan's growth agenda is reflected in the fact the province has grown to a record 1,117,503 population, and many other economic and manufacturing benchmarks are trending upward.
"I hope we're not becoming numb to these statistics. I hope we're not getting complacent because we've seen all of this growth in all of these categories for a long time. And I hope we're not getting too impatient with some of the challenges of growth."
He also explained that government has a responsibility for setting the right tone for growth. The SaskParty has taken steps to make sure Saskatchewan's labour legislative environment is competitive with other jurisdictions, and Saskatchewan's regulatory environment also needs to be competitive. There is also a growing importance to developing the province's innovation and knowledge economy.
"The cornerstone of our growth plan is fiscal probity," Wall highlighted. "The most successful economies, whether they're sub national, provincial or a state or a country, are those economies whose governments, whatever their stripe, execute the fundamentals of fiscal responsibility. Don't borrow to pay for your operating costs. Deficit financing is sometimes recommended by economists. They'll say 'well, you might need it to do stimulus.' The problem is, it isn't economists that have to balances the books later on, it's politicians."
"It's best to avoid the temptation in the first place and not borrow to pay the operating bills of the government. Fiscal responsibility."
"If you saw the budget yesterday, that was a hallmark of the budget we presented. There were no tax increases. We balanced the budget because we made some difficult and challenging decisions on the expenditure side."
Wall, who noted in his address to the audience that he had aspirations to represent Swift Current politically since he was in grade school, does not want to play a different political role.
"I have the best job in Canada. People have been saying 'well, would you ever want to run in federal politics?' And I say to them, only a little bit glibly, I kind of mean this, they should be asking Jason Kenney, Stephen Harper and Jim Prentice, why they aren't running to be the Premier of Saskatchewan. Because this is the best job in the country."