Saskatchewan·Analysis

4 takeaways from the Sask. leaders' debate

The 2020 Saskatchewan leaders' debate lacked the fireworks and fights of past versions, but allowed Scott Moe and Ryan Meili plenty of chances to sell their plans to voters.

Debate was cordial and predictable

Saskatchewan Party Leader Scott Moe and Saskatchewan NDP Leader Ryan Meili laugh before the start of the leaders' debate. The tone remained mostly cordial throughout. (Michael Bell/The Canadian Press)

The 2020 Saskatchewan leaders' debate lacked the fireworks and fights of past versions, but allowed Saskatchewan Party Leader Scott Moe and NDP Leader Ryan Meili plenty of chances to sell their plans to voters.

Here are four takeaways from the debate floor.

Civility

It was clear even before the debate began that it would be cordial.

Yes, both Moe and Meili took turns talking over one another during some open debate sections, and occasionally attempted to interrupt each other, but for the most part they were on their best behaviour.

Ghosts of debates past — including the widely criticized recent U.S. presidential debate — were likely in their heads, so both stuck to their messages.

After the debate, Moe and Meili told reporters they wanted voters to hear their opponent's messages because they see them as detrimental.

The messages

If you have been following the campaign, you've heard "Strong Saskatchewan" from Moe and "Putting People First" from Meili, and both leaders took the opportunity Wednesday to reiterate the points they have been making on the trail.

Moe began by asking voters who they trust to lead the economic recovery.

Meili's opening statement focused on creating and ensuring jobs for people in the province, and on supporting classrooms.

Saskatchewan Party Leader Scott Moe and Saskatchewan NDP Leader Ryan Meili mostly allowed each other to answer questions and interruptions were rare during the 55-minute debate. (Michael Bell/The Canadian Press)

Moe criticized the NDP's spending plan, while Meili said the Saskatchewan Party would make cuts and limit spending.

"You are not going to see a sale of any Crowns here in Saskatchewan," Moe said.

Meili posed questions on Saskatchewan's minimum wage, which is the lowest in the country at $11.45 an hour.

"Why does Mr. Moe think the workers in Saskatchewan are worth less for their labour than the workers in Alberta?" Meili asked.

In response, Moe said his government was able to remove 112,000 low-income Saskatchewan residents from the tax rolls.

Scott Moe and Ryan Meili speak about the pandemic and how it related to education

CBC News Saskatchewan

3 months agoVideo
1:09
Sask. Party Leader Scott Moe and NDP Leader Ryan Meili are asked about COVID-19 and its impact on education during the leaders' debate 1:09

Pandemic and masks

The leaders outlined their plans to lead the economic recovery through the pandemic.

Moe accused Meili of "reckless" spending plans including a claim that the NDP had $4 billion in unaccounted spending in its platform, which has a stated cost of $2.7 billion.

Moe asked viewers to check the Saskatchewan Party website for the details. His party also sent a news release during the debate highlighting the point.

The NDP responded by criticizing the Saskatchewan Party's "crack math squad," saying the NDP platform has been fully costed and signed off on by an economist.

Meili accused Moe's party of planning to make cuts and raise taxes.

"This would be the worst possible time for cuts," Meili said.

Moe said his government would only cut taxes.

On the subject of masks, neither committed to what it would take for them to implement a mandatory indoor mask rule.

No big splashes or big news 

The lack of heated exchanges led to a debate that lacked a "wow" moment and will not generate the coveted meme or social media clip that parties crave.

At the end of the debate, Moe said his government would consider funding a safe consumption site in Saskatoon if his party forms the next government.

Neither leader announced anything new for voters to discover, but both made their pitch and called it distinct from the other.

The debate ended as it started, with the two leaders sharing a laugh before the credits rolled.

Sask. Leaders Debate

CBC News

3 months agoVideo
54:06
Saskatchewan Party Leader Scott Moe and NDP Leader Ryan Meili debate major issues ahead of the Oct. 26 provincial election. 54:06

About the Author

Adam Hunter

Journalist

Adam Hunter is the provincial affairs reporter at CBC Saskatchewan, based in Regina. He has been with CBC for 13 years. He hosts the CBC podcast On the Ledge. Follow him on Twitter @AHiddyCBC. Contact him: adam.hunter@cbc.ca

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

now