From PST to pot: Sask. Party leadership hopefuls square off in 1st debate
Balancing the budget and impaired driving also among topics at Swift Current event
Candidates from the Saskatchewan party looking to become the next premier of the province squared off in their first debate in Swift Current Thursday evening.
The affair was one of courtesy and composure, as there were few interruptions while each candidate answered a moderator's questions on topics ranging from PST to pot.
Running themes such as the importance of economic growth and standing up for Saskatchewan against the federal government punctuated the debate.
When strategies to tackle impaired driving in the province came up, Tina Beaudry-Mellor took a hard stance.
"We need to talk about zero tolerance, period, full stop, " she said. "Not you can have two drinks, or three drinks. We need to talk about zero tolerance."
Balancing the budget
When it came time to speak about balancing the provincial budget, Alanna Koch borrowed words from Brad Wall, saying it's important not to "shock the economy." She proposed a one-year extension on the government's three-year plan to balance the budget.
Scott Moe, Gord Wyant and Ken Cheveldayoff all believed in sticking to the three-year timeline, while Beaudry-Mellor proposed a plan that would balance the budget in "no longer than five years."
The legalization of marijuana also came up as a topic of discussion. Cheveldayoff placed heavy emphasis on his words when he said he takes "great exception" to the federal government's legalization plan.
"I'm very concerned about marijuana entering our school system, entering our workplaces," he said, before going into an anecdote about speaking with a fearful crane company expressing concerns about not being able to determine the sobriety of its workers.
Beaudry-Mellor took a different stance, saying: "I'm going to advocate for this. We are a free enterprise party."
However, she maintained her zero-tolerance position on impaired driving, also applying to marijuana.
Indigenous inclusion also came up.
"One of the great challenges and urgencies in our province is to move toward inclusion of our indigenous people into the mainstream of our society," the moderator began.
"What is your vision for progress so that Saskatchewan can become a role model in this field?" he asked.
Wyant said engaging First Nations in the economy will help foster economic growth in the province.
"I'd go out and meet with lots of chiefs when I was the minister of justice," he said.
"More and more chiefs are saying to me, 'You know Gord, we don't really want a hand out anymore. We want more of a hand up.'"