Premier Moe says pandemic, not looming election, led to flurry of school re-announcements
Moe has re-announced school projects for four consecutive days
Premier Scott Moe has been crisscrossing the province for more than two weeks making announcements about future school and municipal projects, but he says they are not pre-election photo ops. Instead, he says they were delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Wednesday, Moe re-announced plans for a future joint-use school in Regina's Harbour Landing neighbourhood. He was flanked by Education Minister Gord Wyant and five Regina Saskatchewan Party MLAs up for re-election.
Moe made similar announcements in Blaine Lake and Saskatoon on Monday and Tuesday respectively.
He said any complaints that he was using taxpayer-funded government communications to campaign before the upcoming election were "false."
Moe said "the bulk of" the school announcements were already announced in the budget, or in May's $2-billion "economic booster shot."
He said the pandemic prevented public appearances, so he and other government MLAs are doing them now.
"We have been under pandemic rules for some time now. And ultimately, it's taken until now until we're able to make just these types of announcements."
Moe also said his government is making announcements in both Saskatchewan Party held constituencies and those held by the NDP.
He said the government plans to make further school announcements in NDP held constituencies in Regina and La Loche in the coming days.
"We're announcing items that were in our budget. We're announcing infrastructure projects that this government is very proud of."
NDP Leader Ryan Meili was making his own campaign pledges on Thursday in Regina. Meili announced a plan to expand baseload geothermal power in the province.
Meili was asked about Moe's assertion that his school announcements were not pre-election campaigning.
"Of course he was campaigning," Meili said Thursday. "He is probably not the first to do it. It would probably be better if he was just honest about it."
On Thursday, Moe's tour continued when he re-announced a joint-use school project in Moose Jaw. He made a second appearance with Moose Jaw Mayor Fraser Tolmie on Thursday morning to take part in a sod turning at the site of a new pumphouse. The province is giving $4.8 million from its $150-million Municipal Economic Enhancement Program (MEEP) to Moose Jaw. The pumphouse project will cost $3.9 million.
Moe has streamed many of his announcements on his Facebook page.
Last fall, Moe criticized then-Liberal MP for Regina Wascana Ralph Goodale, claiming he was using two pool projects in his riding to help boost his re-election chances.
The federal government wanted the pools approved by the province through a joint infrastructure fund, but Moe and the province said the projects were not a priority at the time.
"This is not Ralph Goodale's re-election fund," Moe said last August.
In July, the province gave the City of Regina $12 million for the new Wascana Pool project.