REGINA — New Democrat opposition critic Aleana Young did not hold back in her remarks towards the Sask. Party on Tuesday.
She blasted the Sask. Party for staging a “taxplayer funded sedition tour” during remarks to reporters at the legislature. That media availability was initially planned as a reaction to minister for SGI Don Morgan’s news conference confirming that there were no plans to bring in lower rates, but eventually veered off into criticism of the Sask. Party meetings on provincial autonomy.
Not surprisingly, Young was critical of the government for failing to lower rates. In the media scrum outside the leader of the Opposition's office, the Regina University MLA spent much of her time calling the government to account on affordability concerns from voters.
Young told reporters she had been out door knocking — “not having closed door meetings with friends and confidantes,” she said — and the reaction had been real concern about the cost of living.
Her “closed door meetings” remark seemed a veiled shot at the “autonomy meetings” being organized this summer in various Sask. Party ridings.
These have been set up across the province featuring Sask. Party MLA Lyle Stewart and former Sask. Party MLA and Maverick Party figure Allan Kerpan, exploring the issue of increasing provincial autonomy to fight off federal government interference.
In response to reporters about that tour, Young called it “indicative of the misplaced priorities of a tired and arrogant government,” pointing to rural hospital closures, school division layoffs, increased costs and farm struggles.
“Instead of addressing any of those issues, the premier is instead paying an old friend to travel around the province and talk about separation. It’s an odd use of taxpayer dollars, it’s an odd use of political capital and quite simply I find it unpatriotic.”
Young also held nothing back as she cited the “proud history” of the Saskatchewan NDP in standing up for provincial rights.
“For every conservative politician yelling about the importance of the province having control of their natural resources, I hope they kiss a picture of Allan Blakeney at night and say, I don’t know, three ‘hail Romanows,’ because it’s the Saskatchewan NDP that has fought for and guaranteed provinces' rights to control their natural resources,” said Young.
“You betcha. We will always stand up for the province's right to stand up for itself. That does not mean you go on a taxpayer-funded sedition tour for your summer vacation.”
As for the release of the SGI annual report, Young expressed disappointment that affordability issues weren’t being addressed.
“What we see is incredibly profitable wealth for a Crown corporation, but we don’t see any real solutions to help Saskatchewan families address the crushing cost of living and affordability crunch that we all know we’re under,” said Young.
“What we don’t see is a solution of simply reduced rates. SGI is in a position to continue to issue rebate checks time and time again which is great to see, but the Auto Fund is nearly 10 per cent over where it should be as of year end. And instead of stroking checks for one million bucks a pop to an out-of-province Ontario company every time a rebate needs to be issued, we are calling for an overall lowering of rates. Even if the government claims it won’t make much of a difference, this will allow people to plan and allow Saskatchewan to continue to have the lowest rates in Canada.”
As for SGI currently having the lowest rates in Canada, Young responded “that’s great, but that’s not a reason for them to not be even lower when they have done absolutely nothing to move on affordability. Alberta is looking at their second round of affordability measures right now, and this government hasn’t even been contemplating their first.”