Cheveldayoff touts experience in Prince Albert

When Premier Brad Wall announced his resignation he said renewal would be good for the party, but one of Saskatchewan’s most prominent cabinet ministers is confident that experience will carry the day.

Leadership candidate Ken Cheveldayoff, who served as minister in five different portfolios, said voters are looking for leadership this election. With his experience he’s confident he can deliver.

“I think that the ballet question is going to be, who’s going to be the best premier and who can win the election for the Sask. Party in rural and urban Saskatchewan,” the Saskatoon Willowgrove MLA said. “I like my chances on that question.”

Cheveldayoff made the comments during a trip to Prince Albert on Monday. He spoke to room of voters for more than half-an-hour before taking questions.

The long-time MLA listed food security, entrepreneurship and the federal carbon tax as some of the major province-wide campaign issues. When it comes to Prince Albert, crime, healthcare and a new bridge continue to be gain attention.

Cheveldayoff said Prince Albert was “next on the list” for a new hospital, but wanted the new province-wide health authority to take a look at the issue before getting into details like the cost breakdown.

He also called for an increased presence from police officers, especially in rural areas, and said officers should spend more time in schools in an educational role.

“I think we have to have more of those officers in our schools, being able to be able to talk to people,” he said. “When I talk to law enforcement individuals they tell me that if you can get to kids in that Grade 7 to Grade 9 age group, you can affect their life going forward, and I think that’s something where government has a role.”

While Cheveldayoff never called out any of his current or former leadership competitors by name, he did offer a few criticisms

Meadow Lake MLA Jeremy Harrison announced his candidacy for party leader on Aug. 19, but withdrew from the race less than a month later. Cheveldayoff said if voters donate to your campaign you owe it to them to see it through to the end. He plans to do just that.

“I will be there right until Jan. 27,” he said.

However the biggest criticism surrounded the carbon tax. Cheveldayoff said many leadership candidates oppose the tax, but not all can explain why.

“I think all candidates in this election for leader will be against it, but where do you go from here? How do you provide an alternative?” he said.

Cheveldayoff stated that he is unequivocally against the carbon tax, and thinks it’s possible for farmers and crop scientists to come up with new innovations that increase the photosynthesis in plants. He said that would be just as effective as a carbon tax, and better for the economy.

“Given the choice between spending money on innovation and having a carbon tax, I’ll spend money on innovation every time,” he said.

If elected, Cheveldayoff has vowed to revisit the new PST charge on insurance. As part of the 2017 budget, the provincial government added a list of new items PST would apply to, like insurance premiums. Cheveldayoff said he wants to see a commission set up to help implement a better tax system.

Cheveldayoff was first elected as MLA for Saskatoon Silver Springs in 2003, and was reelected in 2007 and 2011. He was elected as MLA for Saskatoon Willowgrove in 2016 after boundary changes were made to the electoral map.

He has served as Minister of First Nations and Media Relations, Minister Responsible for the Saskatchewan Gaming Corporation, Minister responsible for Northern Affairs, Minister of Environment, Minister responsible for Saskatchewan Watershed Authority, Minister Responsible for Saskatchewan Water Corporation and most recently as the Minister of Parks, Culture and Sport.

@kerr_jas • jason.kerr@paherald.sk.ca