Sask. NDP leadership hopefuls have final debate before vote

·4 min read
Kaitlyn Harvey (left) and Carla Beck (right) took part in their final Saskatchewan NDP leadership debate on Monday in Regina. (Adam Hunter/CBC  - image credit)
Kaitlyn Harvey (left) and Carla Beck (right) took part in their final Saskatchewan NDP leadership debate on Monday in Regina. (Adam Hunter/CBC - image credit)

The Saskatchewan NDP leadership campaign has been short on time and even shorter on acrimony but it had the slightest bit of the latter as the two candidates held their final debate on Monday night in Regina.

Regina Lakeview MLA Carla Beck and Saskatoon lawyer Kaitlyn Harvey had divergence on policy messages, with Beck calling for a bigger NDP tent and Harvey regularly returning to concerns on the impacts of climate change.

At the conclusion of the one-hour debate, both candidates were given a chance to share closing remarks.

Harvey said she had issues printing off her prepared notes and, for the first time in the two debates, made a remark critical of Beck's campaign.

Win or lose, come hell or high water, that is the message. We are not compromising the platform that we've put together. - NDP leadership candidate Kaitlyn Harvey

"We need to make a choice and this has been my choice to run, to say no more standing up in the warehouse of fracking companies and going to oil and gas shows and saying everything is hunky dory and this is how we're supposed to run a province?"

Harvey seemed to take issue with Beck's campaign launch at Xtended Hydraulics, a locally-owned business east of Regina that specializes in hydraulic cylinder manufacturing and supplies mining, utilities, and the oil and gas industry.

Beck recently attended the annual Weyburn oil and gas show.

Harvey's campaign platform has a climate change and environmental policy focus.

"No, enough is enough. I stepped forward to say that, win or lose come hell or high water that is the message. We are not compromising the platform that we've put together," Harvey said choking up.

If we keep building together we can win. - NDP leadership candidate Carla Beck

Beck did not acknowledge Harvey's remark and closed the debate, referencing the accomplishments Tommy Douglas, and other past NDP governments. She shared a message of growing the party membership.

"Connecting with people and bringing with them and building with them is the only way I've ever known to build lasting solutions," Beck said.

"No matter who they voted for in the last election, or if they voted at all. If we keep building together we can win."

Candidates discuss environment, infrastructure

The debate questions ranged widely from environmental policy to infrastructure and top priorities.

On the climate change action, Beck said the provincial government has presented "no plan" and that has resulted in both high emissions and rising costs.

"There is no doubt that we need to address emissions and we need to take climate change seriously," Beck said.

Harvey said combating climate change is in the "best interest" of Saskatchewan people.

"Taxpayers are going to have to carry that weight. The loss, the liability, the damage is going to fall on us and our children's shoulders. We need to put forward a plan."

In responding to a question on infrastructure, Harvey again pointed to the environment.

"We need to make sure we're building for the future, so not investing in fossil fuel expansion is the bare minimum. We need to stop spending money on things that are killing us, literally."

Harvey said spending should be focused on things that reduce emissions and allow people working in the oil and gas industry an opportunity to transition careers.

Beck said there are many "needs" when it comes to infrastructure and was critical of the provincial government.

"These guys like to spend a lot of money on things but it rarely delivers the same result."

Adam Hunter/CBC
Adam Hunter/CBC

When asked to list top priorities, Harvey said holding the government accountable was one, while committing to a "sustainable Saskatchewan" was another.

"We have a big problem on our hands with climate change. Let's cut the crap and get to work. And we haven't had a government that has been willing to do that," Harvey said.

Beck said her priorities on the party front were to build the NDP, and to improve communication and outreach.

"We need to hold our heads high and we need to tell our own story."

Beck said on the policy side her priorities are jobs and affordability, the province's energy future, and providing services to the public.

The two candidates will take part in a forum in Saskatoon on June 15 and one with members in the southwest part of the province on June 20.

The NDP leadership election is June 26 in Regina.