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NDP’s Beck takes aim at Moe on jobs, launches Hire Sask. plan

Daily Leg Update: Opposition Leader Carla Beck accuses Premier Scott Moe of “selling out” Saskatchewan workers; government fires right back.

REGINA - Opposition Leader Carla Beck took aim at the jobs record of Premier Scott Moe in announcing her party’s Hire Saskatchewan Plan.

The NDP announced details of that policy plank both at the Legislature and in a news release on Monday. According to their news release, the NDP plan calls for the province to prioritize growing Saskatchewan businesses, hire Saskatchewan workers, and build more made in Saskatchewan products when public dollars are spent.

“Premier Scott Moe is selling out Saskatchewan,” Beck said at a news conference at the Legislature Monday. “Saskatchewan people, we know work hard for their money. Saskatchewan people rightly expect that their tax dollars stay in their community, that they go towards hiring Saskatchewan businesses, and Saskatchewan workers and building made in Saskatchewan products.”

Instead, Beck said, under the Sask Party they were seeing “public projects of all sizes, millions of dollars of our tax money, flow out of this province. Tax dollars that belong to the people of this province, which should be putting food on tables here in Saskatchewan.”

The announcement follows a week of coordinated NDP attacks of the government in the Legislature over the controversial awarding of the southern contract for tire processing to Newport Beach, California-based Crumb Rubber Manufacturers over the incumbent Shercom Industries of Saskatoon. At their media availability and in their news release, the party also pointed to a sole-sourced contract to a Calgary company for private hip and knee surgeries, and the contract awarded to a French company to build the Regina Bypass.

Premier Moe was asked about Beck’s announcement during his own media availability at a funding announcement Monday, and made known he was unimpressed with the NDP’s announcement and their recent focus on the tire processing contract issue. He again emphasized the contract was awarded not by government but by a third party entity, Tire Stewardship of Saskatchewan.

“What’s ironic is that that very same NDP leader that has sent out and asked for that particular company, and that consulting company, to donate to their fundraising campaigns,” Moe said. “So they complain out of one side of their mouth, but ask for donations out of the other side of their mouth.”

The consulting company Moe was referring to was Prairie Sky Strategies, the lobbying firm that has come under fire from the Opposition over the association of Kevin Doherty as lobbyist for California-based CRM. But in Question Period Monday the government fired back, as Minister of Government Relations Don McMorris referred to a fundraising letter sent to that same firm by the NDP.

"And you know why they sent them a letter, Mr. Speaker? They’re begging and pleading for a $5,000 donation for that Leader of the Opposition. Say the same thing in every room? Tell your party that," McMorris said.

Most procurement Saskatchewan-based, says Moe.

Government members also said the vast majority of procurement is won by Saskatchewan companies. Minister for SaskBuilds Joe Hargrave said in the Legislature that "over 82 per cent — 82 per cent — of the contracts have been awarded to Saskatchewan-based companies. Mr. Speaker, in fact when there’s a Saskatchewan bidder, Saskatchewan companies secure the contracts approximately 90 per cent of the time in these competitions."

In speaking to reporters, Premier Moe had said that “over 80 per cent of procurement in the province goes to Saskatchewan companies.”

“There are things that will govern whether or not that can happen. There’s a Canada free trade agreement, for example. We are part of the New West Partnership that provides for some level of involvement across borders, and we benefit from that as much as at times it might seem challenging. But over 80 per cent of procurement in Saskatchewan does go to Saskatchewan companies and I would just say this: Saskatchewan is very much is not only connected to our other provinces, other states and provinces across North America, but we are globally connected as well as we export to over 163 countries around the world and in each of these countries we’re also looking at and attracting investments. BHP is a company that’s invested tens of millions of dollars into our province. They’re not a Saskatchewan-based company, but now have the head of their potash operations and all of their potash operations right here in the province of Saskatchewan. Mosaic is an American company that is invested in Saskatchewan. We see uranium companies, some based from Saskatchewan, some attracting investment from outside Saskatchewan. So we are not only nationally and international connected, but we’re connected worldwide through our exports and through our trade investment offices."

Moe wrapped up his remarks on that issue by saying the "words that the NDP is speaking, really, are not relevant to what the general direction of Saskatchewan procurement is and the general direction of the strength we have in a broader economy.”