REGINA — Premier Scott Moe had further comments Wednesday on the recently released white paper on the province’s jurisdictional authority.
Moe fielded questions from reporters at the legislature about the “Drawing the Line” document released Tuesday during his appearance at an event in North Battleford. The document outlines how the province plans to respond to federal intrusions into provincial jurisdiction.
Moe was asked specifically if he had consulted with any Indigenous groups before releasing the white paper.
The premier responded that they had been “talking with all groups at all times,” noting MLAs spoke to people each and every day. “Some of them are Indigenous, some of them are not.”
Moe also said he had been in open town halls, and also pointed to the meetings conducted by Allen Kerpan and Lyle Stewart on provincial autonomy.
“We have been consulting, I think, as government MLAs not just over the last summer but over the course of the past number of years, on how we are going to ensure that we can unlock the opportunity Saskatchewan has. That’s what this paper lays the foundation for, and you’ll see a number of steps coming in the days ahead. This isn’t exclusively about the federal government. This is about achieving the opportunity that lies before us.”
He said in the discussion and consultation for the white paper, it was “by far more engaging with individuals instead of any organizations.”
Premier Moe was also asked about why equalization was not part of the document, a point raised by NDP leader Carla Beck in a statement released earlier Wednesday.
“We never heard about this throughout the summer,” said Moe, indicating it hadn't come up during their meetings with people. “I would view it as a separate conversation, not one that we would be in any way shy away from having … What we’re specifically talking about here today is how do we unlock the potential we have in this province.”
When asked if experts had been consulted, Premier Moe said there had been “fairly substantive” consultation on the white paper, including within their own Ministry of Justice.
Moe also took issue when asked that economists had asserted that the province’s cost estimate — in which they estimated federal policies would cost Saskatchewan $111 billion — should be much lower.
“I disagree,” Moe said, saying the estimates were done by the Ministry of Finance and that they were “asked to do a final dive into what are the costs” coming out of the nine policies that did not align with Saskatchewan’s constitutional authority.
Moe was also asked about new Alberta Premier Danielle Smith’s comments on Tuesday that unvaccinated people were among the most discriminated against.
“I wouldn’t agree with that,” said Moe.
He elaborated further, saying “it’s not for me to judge who is discriminated against or has been discriminated against. I’m certain there’s a number of individuals and people who disagree with those comments. What we’re here to do and what I’m here to do, and what I do do, is any of those individuals or groups that do feel they’ve been discriminated in some way, that we’re here to support them as a government, here to work with them and that will continue.”
Moe did wish Premier Smith “the very best,” saying “I’m sure we’ll find many points of agreement as we did with former Premier Kenney, as we often do with many other premiers across the nation.”