Premier Moe asks for support of party members ahead of convention and leadership review

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Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe will speak to party members in-person at the Saskatchewan Party's convention in Saskatoon on Saturday. (The Canadian Press - image credit)
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe will speak to party members in-person at the Saskatchewan Party's convention in Saskatoon on Saturday. (The Canadian Press - image credit)

Premier Scott Moe will seek the support of Saskatchewan Party members at the party's convention in Saskatoon on Saturday.

Moe will face a leadership review vote, which is held regularly at conventions.

"I will humbly be asking for the support of the attendees at our convention," Moe said Thursday.

The biennial convention will be in person at TCU Place, but has been scaled back from an original plan due to the pandemic.

"We traditionally have a number of social events and gatherings that are co-ordinated alongside the convention. We really pared it down just in the interest of reducing that point of contact. And obviously, all of the public health measures, masking, proof of vaccination are in place."

Guy Quenneville/CBC
Guy Quenneville/CBC

Moe said he was excited to be able to see other party members in person and not on a computer screen.

He said he expects there to be disagreement on how the government has handled the pandemic, based on contact he and caucus liaisons have had with party members over the last year or so.

"Do we have a difference of opinion? Sure. I think it's fair in our caucus. It's fair and in any group of people up and down any street here in the province."

The most high-profile public difference of opinion within the party came from Saskatchewan Rivers MLA Nadine Wilson, who resigned from the caucus after misrepresenting her vaccination status.

Wilson has spoken out inside and outside the legislative chamber about the government's vaccination policy and has not revealed her vaccination status.

None of the other 46 Saskatchewan Party MLAs have voiced views similar to Wilson publicly or questioned the government's COVID response.

The Saskatchewan NDP held its convention virtually last month. Party leader Ryan Meili received 72 per cent support from the more than 400 registered convention delegates.

Both Alberta and Manitoba's NDP leaders received more than 90 per cent support in their leadership votes.

Moe does not face the same prospect of a leadership review as Alberta Premier Jason Kenney. In Sept., facing pressure from his caucus and party, Kenney asked the party to hold a leadership review in the spring of 2022 rather than the fall.

As for his message to those in attendance, Moe said he will be discussing "the challenges that we've had with COVID-19 throughout the last 20 months, in particular over the course of this fourth wave."

He said he will also talk about "what Saskatchewan has achieved during this time as well" including private investment in projects around the province and public investment in schools, hospitals and highways.

Moe said the overarching message is that the investments made in the province will create jobs, which will lead to people setting down roots to raise their families.

Moe's speech and the leadership review are not the only things on the agenda. The party will vote on a president, review policy and hold a question and answer with members and MLAs.

Rally planned during speech

A group that calls itself Concerned Citizens for COVID Action are holding a rally outside TCU Place while Moe delivers his speech to party members.

The group said it wants the government to implement some of the measures called for in a letter from 21 medical health officers in Saskatchewan sent to the government on Oct. 21.

Those measures include:

  • New 28-day gathering restrictions.

  • Proof of vaccination without a negative test option expanded to include students 12 and older and teachers and staff in schools and child care settings.

  • Targeting areas with low vaccination rates to increase uptake.

  • Providing resources for testing, tracing, and isolation.

"The health-care crisis and the collateral damage caused by cancellation of services were predicted by modelling data and were preventable. The privatization of health-care services to address resulting backlogs is unacceptable," said rally organizer Theresa MacKinnon in a news release.

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