In the lead up to the Sask. Party leadership race in the province, CBC Saskatchewan is interviewing each of the six candidates about their priorities and opinions.
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall announced his upcoming retirement in August. The part will elect a new leader on Jan. 27, 2018 and the winner will take over the province's top position.
The candidates include Tina Beaudry-Mellor, Gord Wyant, Ken Cheveldayoff, Scott Moe, Alanna Koch and Rob Clarke.
On Facebook, we're allowing our followers to pose their questions which the candidates will answer live on air on CBC Radio's Blue Sky program.
On Wednesday Gord Wyant spoke to CBC News host Jill Morgan following his live appearance.
Jill Morgan: You've said you're committed to a more compassionate government. How would you say the government isn't demonstrating compassion right now?
Gord Wyant: One of the things we've been going around the province talking about is a return to our founding principles. We believe in smaller, less-intrusive government, but we also have a social responsibility as government and I think one of the things we're going around talking to people about is reminding people that the core business of government is really people. We're talking about the economy as our currency. You know that's what we need to drive. We need to drive our economy to continue to provide the resources into government so that we can take care of our primary responsibility and that's the people of the province. That's what we're going around talking, making sure we can properly fund education and healthcare and some of the others issues people have said are important to them. That's really our primary message.
JM: What is not happening right now that you want to change if you are the leader of the Saskatchewan Party?
GW: I think that there's a sense among some people in this province that the government isn't listening quite as much as perhaps they once were and I think, maybe after 10 years a government becomes a little bit insular and isn't listening to the things that people are talking about in terms of quality education and health care and those kinds of things. So, remembering our principles in terms of being fiscal conservatives, because we're all fiscal conservatives, making sure we're providing those resources. That's the things that we're hearing--that there's a lot of people who traditionally supported our party and perhaps don't feel as warm in our party as they once felt. So it's really a message trying to attract those people back to our party and give them some hope in our government as we go forward.
JM: Let's talk about the budget and this 3.5 per cent cut for the labour force in the public sector. If unions disagree with it, how do you plan to account for that?
GW: Well, I believe in the collective bargaining process. If you read some of the articles that have been in the paper today talking about the gap between what the unions are expecting their government to come up with and what the government's plans are. It's all part of the collective bargaining process. I think we'll move forward with that collective bargaining process, we'll bargain in good faith and I'm sure we'll be able to come to an arrangement. The expectation that we can balance our budget but at the same time making sure the people that work for this government, the people that support our children our classrooms and support healthcare in this province, are properly taken care of. So that's really the goal of collective bargaining and I'm committed to that collective bargaining process.
JM: What would you like to see change in education and in the classrooms? There's a lot of frustration that education and teachers aren't getting the support they need to give our young people the best education.
GW: We've been talking a lot about education and part of my policy I had brought out just a couple of weeks ago on education. I've said, whenever I get the opportunity, that not a wheel turns in this province unless you have a good quality education system. And whether that's K to 12 or post-secondary, I think we need to make sure that we're providing resources to the classrooms that the teachers need to be able to provide the educational opportunities to children in their classrooms. And I think we do a disservice when we don't do that. We've had an educational sector plan that was put together by a lot of stakeholders: teachers and school board trustees and administrators and the ministry. We need to make sure that we're properly resourcing that sector plan and I've committed to, first of all, a review of that sector plan after I become premier, if I'm fortunate enough to get that done, and then look to see what additional resources we're going to need to dedicate so that we can be true to that plan and make sure it's successful. Because really, ensuring that we provide good quality education is the key to making sure that we have a successful society and successful communities.
JM: How are you different than Brad Wall?
GW: There's a lot of things in terms of Brad's philosophy that I agree with and I think there are a lot of things that we need to continue on. I think what we need to do is refocus on the founding principles of this party, making sure we're true to those founding principles because that's what's given us the electoral success over the last three general elections. So while there are a number of things that I fully support in terms of where this party has come from, and look to build on the significant economic success of this province, I do think that we need to refocus a little bit on what we need to do to make sure that we're supporting the people of this province. From that perspective I want to make sure that we focus on and we make sure that the people of this province understand that government's first responsibility is to the people of this province and use the economy to do that, to make sure that we're providing those resources.
JM: Would you say that hasn't been done?
GW: Well, I think that there's been a sense that perhaps we've spent more time focusing on balancing the budget —which is important. We need to live within our means and we need to make sure that we balance our budgets. I think that's important in households, it's important in business and I think that should be expected from people's government, but I think that in terms of trying to focus on balancing the budget, we can't lose sight of what our core responsibilities are as a government.