Premier candidate Ken Cheveldayoff says the next leader of the province needs to be someone who can balance the workload between addressing what’s important to people living in bigger city areas as well as small town communities.
As someone with a small-town background but major city experience himself, for Ken it’s about Saskatchewan’s next leader being able to effectively represent the needs of both the rural and urban parts of the province.
Cheveldayoff was in Outlook on Thursday afternoon, November 9, hosting an open house session at the Legion Hall and welcoming the public in to talk about the issues and what’s important to them as the race towards electing a new premier continues heating up.
Ken is happy to see the direction his campaign trail has been going so far.
“It’s been going fantastic,” he said. “We just had our party convention last weekend in Saskatoon, where we had 800 people there. We had debates and speeches, and I feel that I did very well connecting with the people in the room, so I’m very excited about the enthusiasm that followed the party convention.”
Cheveldayoff is just one of the five people vying for the leadership role, joining Scott Moe, Alanna Koch, Gord Wyant, and Tina Beaudry-Mellor, but his political resume is quite notable and could be one of the things that may tip momentum in his favour. Ken was first elected in 2003 as an MLA, and has served as Minister of Enterprise Saskatchewan, Minister Responsible for Trade, Minister Responsible for SaskEnergy, Minister of Environment, and was serving as Minister of Parks, Culture & Sport before he announced his bid for leadership of the party.
Growing up in Blaine Lake, Cheveldayoff points to John Diefenbaker being the local Member of Parliament as one of the reasons why he gained an interest in politics at an early age.
Fast forward to first being elected in ’03, and Ken realized that the urban part of the province was looking at an uphill battle.
“In 2003, we had every rural seat in the province, but the people at the time said the Sask Party couldn’t win in urban Saskatchewan,” he said. “Those of us that were running in urban Saskatchewan wanted to prove otherwise, so we worked really hard to have extraordinary campaigns, and three of us were elected; Don Morgan, Ted Merriman, and myself. But we were still in opposition, so it’s an important lesson right now as we look to the 2020 election that the next leader has to be able to win in rural Saskatchewan because that’s our base, but you have to be able to win in urban Saskatchewan as well. I was elected my first time by 595 votes, but in this last election I was able to win by 5,000 votes, so I know how to win in urban Saskatchewan and I think that’s important going forward.”
Cheveldayoff’s vision for the province includes the government balancing its financials because he believes that’s a key component in attracting investment down the road.
“I think we’ve had ten years of great growth under Brad Wall, and now it’s important to look at our last budget,” he said. “We realize it was a tough budget, and there are some things in there that we could’ve done better to take a step back and see if we can fix a few things, but most importantly, we need to prepare for the next ten years of growth. I’m a fiscal Conservative; I believe that if every family and business has to balance their books that the government should have to balance their books as well. I think that’s going to help our economy in the long run; when people are looking where to invest, they’ll invest in a jurisdiction that has their own financial house in order, and I want that to be Saskatchewan.”
People have been talking to Ken about what’s important to them, but he says they also want to hear what all the candidates are bringing to the table.
“They’re talking about wanting to carry on the vision and the growth that Brad Wall has provided, but they also want to know the new ideas that candidates bring,” he said, touching on his plan to improve internet across the province by 225%. “SaskTel spends $300 million a year on capital expenditures and what I’m proposing will cost $30 million and take about five years to get to a speed of 10 Mbps. I just want to be able to ensure people in Saskatchewan that if they’re running a business, that they can compete across the province and across the country, and the internet services an important part of that.”
As well, the marijuana issue is something that everywhere I go, whether its teachers or parents or other individuals, they’re very concerned about what is going to happen as the federal government forces us to deal with marijuana,” he continued. “It’s something that I’m very concerned about, and I’m proposing that the minimum age be 25 years of age because I’m very concerned about young people in our province. The Canadian Medical Association says that the brain continues to grow until age 25, so I think that’s the area that we should allow young people to obtain marijuana.”
Cheveldayoff says he’s opposed to Ottawa’s intended carbon tax proposal, instead choosing to believe in innovation and investment.
“I couldn’t be more against it,” he said. “Number one, it doesn’t work as it doesn’t really affect the amount of carbon that is put into the atmosphere. It’s a tax and it would make us less competitive. I was always taught that you can’t just be against something, you have to be in favour of something as well, and in this regard in Saskatchewan, we have a great story to tell about forestry, as well as agriculture innovation. I’ve been talking to professors at the university such as Dr. Maurice Moloney, someone who has done a lot of work on photosynthesis for example, and says if you can take it from 6% and increase it to 8%, the absorption of carbon would be the same as the carbon tax. So, given the choice between the tax or innovation and investment in food security, I’ll take the investment all the time.”
Another federal government move that is irking a lot of Canadians is the recently-introduced new taxation formula for small businesses. Ken says it’s something that hurts people where it matters and could hinder the type of growth he wants to see in the province.
“I’m running for the provincial leadership, but many of the concerns on peoples’ minds are federal,” he said. “Small business people that I know – they’re not people who are looking for tax loopholes. They’re people who are investing all of their assets in their business; that’s their RRSP, it’s their RESP, and it’s everything to them, and to change the taxation rates would be something that would be a folly for the federal government. We certainly should stay away from that because I believe that’s the future of the growth that I want to see in the province; it’s going to be small business and entrepreneurship that’s going to take us there.”
Cheveldayoff took a moment to touch on the legacy that Premier Brad Wall will leave behind as the leader of the Saskatchewan Party, as well as Saskatchewan itself, but he also believes he’s the right person for the job to take the province into the next chapter.
“Brad Wall will be seen as one of the finest premiers ever in the history of Saskatchewan,” said Ken. “He’s overseen ten years of unbridled growth and made sure that the infrastructure and quality of life has continued in our province. We were teetering at around one million people when we were first elected in ’07, and almost 1.2 million people here now. He had an incredible vision. I’ve known him most of my life as we met when we were both high school age, and I’m proud to consider him a friend. He’ll continue in whatever capacity he works in to represent Saskatchewan and continue our interests, but I believe what’s necessary now is that someone has to take the torch from him and make it shine bright again, and I believe I’m that person.”