'Right thing for a premier to do:' Saskatchewan's Moe reflects on Pride parade

REGINA — Before Scott Moe participated in his first Pride parade earlier this year, the Saskatchewan premier ran it past his young adult daughter.

Moe says he takes advice in a big way from the women in his life: his wife, Krista, and daughter, Taryn.

"I said, 'I’m thinking about going in the Pride parade tomorrow,' and (Taryn) said, 'I think it’s a great idea, dad. You always talk about being a government that represents all of the people in Saskatchewan.'

"She said, 'You should go, and you should act like you do.' I said, 'All right,'" recalled Moe.

"That confirmed that it was the right thing for a premier to do.”

His participation in the Saskatoon Pride Festival marked a first for a Saskatchewan Party leader as well as for a Saskatchewan premier, Moe told The Canadian Press in a year-end interview.

Moe, a rural member of the legislature, said he supports same-sex marriage and has watched friends' kids grow up and experience the difficulties of telling friends and family they're gay.

“I’ve seen that first hand and it has an impact on you.”

February will mark two years since the 46-year-old was sworn in as premier after winning the fifth ballot in a leadership race triggered by Brad Wall's exit from politics. Moe faces his first election as premier this coming year.

The former cabinet minister, who's served in the legislature going on nine years, is currently the youngest premier in Canada.

And he's trying to stay healthy. Since his job title changed, Moe has cut out caffeine and started running. It helps to ease the pressures of the job.

"It just gives me that half-hour three or four times a week to not think about all this.”

He's also getting more sleep, save the night before leading a recent meeting of Canada's premiers in Mississauga, Ont., where achieving consensus was the goal in the room.

“I felt a tremendous amount of pressure."

While the gathering goes down as a career highlight, Moe said, 2019 also included what he considers to be his biggest letdown.

That would be the meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau after October's federal election in which the Liberals were blanked in Alberta and Saskatchewan. Moe presented a list of demands which included reworking equalization and cancelling the federal carbon tax.

He left Ottawa empty-handed and told media he would be looking at ways for the province to expand its autonomy.

Moe acknowledges some viewed his behaviour as combative, but said he wanted to make clear how frustrated people in the province feel.

He also believes the rise in support for western separation is driven by a desire to get rid of some Liberal policies and not to actually leave the federation.

Handling those sentiments, working with a Liberal minority in Ottawa and taking Saskatchewan's carbon tax fight to the Supreme Court of Canada are some of the big tasks Moe faces in 2020.

Campaigning in his first provincial election as premier and delivering a pre-election budget are also on his to-do list.

When it comes to seeking advice, Moe said he doesn't look to anyone in particular — although he's a fan of Winston Churchill — and mostly gleans perspectives from the pages of political books.

“It might interest you that I’m reading books about Liberal prime ministers."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 27, 2019

Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press