Setting the record straight

Over the course of the campaign, there have been a number of questions that come up repeatedly. I wanted to take five minutes and set the record straight. I have based my campaign on integrity and inclusiveness, and while some campaigns have said otherwise, I can assure you that I am capable and committed to building a strong party and a strong Saskatchewan.

Q:You are not currently an MLA. If elected as Sask Party leader, how will you get a seat in the legislature?

A: If I am fortunate enough to become Premier, I will run in a by-election immediately following the leadership election and will have a seat in the house prior to the Spring session.

Q:Will you run in the 2020 general election?

A: If my home constituency is open in 2020 that’s where I will consider running. I will not run in any riding just to be an MLA. I don’t believe it’s fair to constituents to be an absentee MLA.

Q: You were previously accused of having prior knowledge to a debate question.

A: My job for the last 10 years has been to be well prepared to brief the Premier and Ministers. I treated debate prep in exactly the same way, ensuring my team and I gathered as much information as we could prior to each debate on local issues, trending provincial issues and best predictions of what may come up based on what I was hearing on the campaign trail.

My team asked for information on many issues throughout the campaign, many of which never came up in the debates.The question in Weyburn on nurse practitioners was one I anticipated because I had been hearing so much about their scope of practice and how it could be improved; in fact I would say most of the candidates anticipated this questions as their answers were pretty good as well!

The other candidates can accuse me over preparing, but never of having knowledge of the questions. If I had prior knowledge of the questions, I should have done even better at the debates! These are completely false accusations based on a coincidental timing of an information request. I am focused on keeping the party united and winning the election in 2020 and beyond. And that’s what all the candidates should focus on.

Q: You are the only candidate not committed to removing the PST on insurance.

A: That is not true. I am totally committed to removing the PST on insurance - I promise that within my first 100 days in office to complete a thorough review of PST on insurance and make all necessary changes - and they will be significant

What I won’t do is make a rash decision without fully understanding the impacts - exactly what happened when the PST on insurance was first introduced. Some candidates have made promises with absolutely no plan to pay for any of it. So while it is easy to make promises with zero plans for follow through, I won't do that. I will take the time to do due diligence.

While the other four candidates are more than eager to do away with it now, that definitely wasn’t the case when they were all Cabinet members and voted to put it in in the first place.

Q: You have never participated in Question Period before. How are you going to be able to handle yourself in the Legislature?

A: I have represented Saskatchewan in boardrooms around the world and have faced some very tough questions, from some very critical opponents. In all of these situations I have remained poised and have ensured that Saskatchewan’s interests are heard. I guarantee that the same will happen in Question Period, and with our dealings with the federal government.

Q: The other main contenders have support from several MLAs. How will you unite the party?

A: Uniting the party is going to be a priority for whoever the successful candidate is. It is vital that we move forward as a united party for a strong Saskatchewan. I am confident that the team of MLAs will be strong and focused on continuing the engagement with the Saskatchewan people that has resulted from this leadership race. I am committed to increased communication to MLAs from the Premier’s Office and Cabinet so they can more effectively keep their constituents informed.

I have also committed to having regional caucus and cabinet meetings, and reintroducing regional party dinners to ensure all citizens have access to their elected representatives so we keep the party well connected to Saskatchewan people..  

Q:Why don’t you have the support of more MLAs? Specifically Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart?

A:  While I can’t answer for Minister Stewart, I can tell you that when I was the Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Lyle and I had a very good working relationship and we accomplished many good things for the Sask Party Government. I believe many of the MLAs have supported candidates based on friendships and old political allegiances.

What I can say is MLA support is not what this election is about. It is about the will of all Sask Party Members. That is why I traveled over 40,000 km, visited more than 100 communities and met with thousands of members over the past five months.

Q: It has been said, that because you have never been elected as an MLA, you do not have the experience necessary to be Premier.

A: While it is true that I have never been an elected MLA, I have been an elected school board trustee and elected to many boards of directors. I have also been involved in many federal and provincial campaigns; I have been involved in politics my entire adult life. I have helped to get people elected, served the elected and advised the elected.

What I bring is a breadth and depth of the experience as a leader in both the public and private sector. I have demonstrated that I am committed to engaging the citizens of Saskatchewan.

I have worked alongside elected MLAs and have worked hard to get many politicians elected. I know exactly what it takes to be a successful politician.

Q: You talk about wrap-around services. What is this and how will it save the taxpayers money?

A: Wrap-around services will make better use of our investment into health care, education, social services and justice by having these areas of government more closely collaborate amongst them as well as community based organizations to help our most vulnerable. The services will be wrapped around citizens, in a holistic manner so a citizen has access to all of the services they need through a coordinated point of entry. Focusing on prevention, instead of intervention and having one point of entry into government for services (reducing duplication and administration) will result in a better use of government funds.

Q: Some of the other candidates have promised a specific investment into education. What is your commitment to education?

A: Education is a priority. I support the education sector strategic plan. We need to focus funding on the classroom - so teachers have the resources and supports they need, including educational assistants.

I have not announced a specific dollar investment, because at this point I don’t have full access to the information necessary to make a decision that is accurate, realistic and sustainable. One of my guiding principles is not to make promises that I can’t keep. Once elected, I will sit down with stakeholders including teachers, local elected school boards, and all those that are part of the education system including educational assistants and school community councils to come up with a long-term, sustainable funding model that ensures that our children and teachers have the support they need to be successful. I will listen to teachers and will work to re-establish respectful relationships.