Byelections won't be called after 2 MLAs resign to enter federal race: Moe

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe has confirmed the province will not call a byelection after two MLAs stepped down from their position.

Warren Steinley, who represented Regina Walsh acres and Corey Tochor, who represented Saskatoon-Eastview, resigned their seats to run for the Conservatives in the federal election on Oct. 21.

NDP Leader Ryan Meili spoke out about the resignations on Wednesday, saying the timing means the government isn't forced to call a byelection to fill the seats before next fall's provincial election because of a loophole caused by the fixed election date law.

Moe said legislation in Saskatchewan "clearly states [a byelection] should not be called at this point in time." He said the legislation was put in place before there were set election dates and the government will honour it.

Byelections would cost more than $700,000

Moe said the next provincial election is just over a year away and running two byelections before then would cost more than $700,000.

"The legislation was put in place to account for just these types of things, and within this timeframe, so we'll be following the legislation and we won't be calling the byelections," he said.

Moe said there's also "an effort in this province to ensure that we are very prudent with the peoples' finances."

MLAs continued to receive provincial salary

Meili also raised concerns about Steinley and Tochor receiving a salary from provincial taxpayers after winning their federal nominations in the spring of 2018. 

But Steinley told CBC he didn't resign as an MLA in April because many people have other jobs when they're running for office and he was confident he could fulfil his provincial duties until the federal campaign officially began.

Both MLAs will also receive severance packages, but Moe noted they aren't very big packages.

"There are, in fact, severance packages that other MLAs have collected on both sides of the house over the course of the last number of years," he said.

"They're put in place understanding that the elected members' careers are generally not lifelong careers like many other careers in the public service."

Now that federal campaigns have begun, the two ridings won't have an elected representative in government until the next provincial election — something that isn't sitting well with Meili.

"I don't know why the premier doesn't think that MLAs matter, that the work that folks do to represent their constituencies isn't important enough for us to re-elect someone," he said.

Steinley said he is confident that people in his riding would be served properly by other Sask. Party MLAs in Regina, while Moe confirmed "a number of MLAs" will work to ensure constituents in those ridings are "well served."