After American president Donald Trump was diagnosed with coronavirus Thursday evening, just over a month shy of the American presidential election, Saskatchewan party leaders said their own campaigns are continuing safely.
At a campaign event this morning, Premier Scott Moe reassured Saskatchewan that the provincial election campaign will not pose a significant public health risk to the province.
"With the news coming out of the United States of America with respect to their presidential campaign, I know many people may be wondering if, here in this province, we are campaigning safely," said Moe.
"And I would say that I believe we are.… Just like everyone else in this province, we are being cautious and we are doing everything that we can to protect ourselves, to protect our families, and to protect all of those around us."
Moe emphasized that the circumstances in Saskatchewan are markedly different than those in the United States.
"Obviously there are many differences between our campaign and the presidential campaign that is being conducted south of the border in the USA," he said. "We're staying in one province, not travelling across the nation.
"We're not holding large rallies. We're limiting the number of people at our events, and we are physically distancing … at each of our events. And of course in Saskatchewan, there are just quite simply a lot fewer active cases today than just about anywhere you would travel throughout the US."
'Somebody has a sniffle and they back away'
At a separate event also held this morning, Saskatchewan NDP leader Ryan Meili also discussed the public health precautions his campaign has been taking.
The campaign is focused "more on the protective measures," he said. "Obviously, if anyone even has a sniffle, they're going and getting tested and taking time away. Those sorts of things have happened, where somebody has a sniffle and they back away — that's exactly how we operate."
Meili said members of his campaign are getting tested only if they are showing potential symptoms of COVID-19 or may have come in contact with somebody who does have the virus, saying "I don't think that the evidence is really there on proactive, asymptomatic testing with no contact."
Meili also criticized the premier for remaining open to the possibility of holding a spring election earlier this year.
"Thank goodness we didn't do a campaign when Scott Moe wanted us to, back in the spring when we were first learning about [COVID-19] and we didn't know about masks; when there was so much we didn't understand," he said. "What a disaster that would have been. Now, we're able to take some steps to make sure we do this safely."
At his event, Moe also responded to Saskatoon Eastview Saskatchewan Party Candidate Daryl Cooper's now-deleted Facebook posts promoting an unproven theory about pandemics being caused by sunspots.
"I believe [Cooper] has acknowledged that this is a theory — it is not scientific or credible," said Moe. "I would agree with that. I have not seen the post myself, but I would agree that given the information I have had that it is not scientific or credible."
Moe also praised the public's adherence to provincial health guidelines as a driving factor in Saskatchewan's economic and social recovery.
"The decisions we are making each and every day, ourselves on this campaign and people in communities right across Saskatchewan … are providing us with the collective success that we are having when it comes to COVID-19," Moe said.
"We were able to continue to have 87 per cent of people work throughout our response to COVID-19 here in Saskatchewan," he said. "We were able to reopen our economy in Saskatchewan as quickly as any other province throughout the nation, and we now have the lowest unemployment record in the nation of Canada."