Saskatchewan

Shortened Sask. legislature sitting winds down

Friday marked the end of the Saskatchewan's legislature sitting, which was shortened due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Budget, bills, rising tempers highlight shortened session

Friday marked the end of a three-week legislature sitting. (Bryan Eneas/CBC)

Friday marked the end of a whirlwind Saskatchewan Legislature sitting that saw numerous bills, a budget and the announcement of a legacy project decades in the making. 

The session included legislation to expand and improve oversight of police, a budget that included a $2.4-billion deficit, and the announcement of a $4-billion irrigation project.

The sitting was shortened due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Premier Scott Moe said the last three weeks were good for his Saskatchewan Party government. 

"We were able to pass our legislation which we had on our order paper, which is important for us to be doing the work that the people of this province expect us to be accomplishing," Moe said. 

One of the challenges he faced in the shortened session was meeting with colleagues virtually, something he said felt different than the usual camaraderie that exists in the legislature. 

"It's just not the same," Moe said.

The three-week sitting was something Moe said he wanted, and thanked both house leaders for their hard work to make it happen.

NDP seeks further accountability

Opposition NDP Leader Ryan Meili pushed for the sitting to happen amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Friday, he said it was an important opportunity to hold the government to account during the pandemic. The budget in particular was brought up by the provincial NDP numerous times in question period in recent days.

But Meili said he didn't quite get the accountability he sought. He's previously pushed for another sitting in September, before the provincial election this fall. 

"It is unfortunate and really let Saskatchewan people down that Scott Moe didn't think that was a worthwhile thing to do," he said, adding the NDP will continue to push for information leading up to the election. 

"People shouldn't be going to the polls with not even half of the information. They should get the full picture." 

On Friday, Moe again ruled out the possibility of another sitting prior to the provincial election, saying what needed to be accomplished was accomplished. 

Tempers flare in question periods

Things got heated during question period over the last two days, and points of order had to be called on both Thursday and Friday over perceived personal attacks by members on each side of the House. 

On Friday, Speaker Mark Docherty responded to a point of order by saying too many personal attacks were being thrown around. 

People in both parties said things may have gotten more heated due to the fall election being just around the corner.

Later Friday afternoon, Moe acknowledged the comments made by both parties during the sitting and said there were members who were likely not proud of what was done and said. 

"We do need to continue to strive for, not perfection, but to be better in the House and in our communities that we represent," Moe said. "I bear some of that responsibility."

11 members leaving

A total of 11 MLAs are leaving the legislature after this sitting.

On the Sask. Party side, they include:

  • Dan D'Autremont (Cannington).
  • Nancy Heppner (Martensville-Warman). 
  • Greg Brkich (Arm River).
  • Glen Hart (Last Mountain-Touchwood).
  • Herb Cox (The Battlefords).
  • Lary Doke (Cutkife-Turtleford).
  • Warren Michelson (Moose Jaw North).

Meanwhile, NDP MLAs who don't plan to return for the next session are:

  • Warren McCall (Regina Elphinstone-Centre).
  • David Forbes (Saskatoon Centre).
  •  Danielle Chartier (Saskatoon Riversdale).
  • Cathy Sproule (Saskatoon Nutuna).

About the Author

Bryan Eneas

Reporter

Bryan Eneas is a journalist from the Penticton Indian Band currently based in Regina, Saskatchewan. Before joining CBC, he reported in central and northern Saskatchewan. Send news tips to Bryan.Eneas@cbc.ca.

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