Buffalo Party proposing taking control of police, pension plans and taxation

Buffalo Party of Saskatchewan Interim Leader Wade Sira. (Jayda Taylor/Daily Herald)

With a mix of conservative policy favourites such as smaller government and fewer taxes combined with promises to gain greater independence and control over federal responsibilities, the Buffalo Party of Saskatchewan, formerly known as Wexit Saskatchewan, unveiled its election platform Monday.

The fledgling party titled their document “a fair deal for Saskatchewan.”

The party has also said they would push for a referendum on separating from the rest of Canada.

“This is a democracy. The people have the right to have that choice,” Leader Wade Sira told CKOM.

“If they decide to stay in Canada, then the job of the government is to do what’s best for Saskatchewan in this country. If the people want to leave, then the job of the government is to do the best for this province as an independent, sovereign state,” he said.

He also suggested a rethink of pandemic restrictions imposed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and said wearing a mask should be an individual’s choice.

“People do need to get sick to build their own immunity,” Sira told reporters and a handful of supporters, according to Phil Tank of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix.

“The human body is an amazing piece of work. We will either survive or we won’t. Living in fear is not the way to live life. That’s living life in chains.”

Promises under the party’s economic platform include restructuring the billing formula for Crown Corporations, removing the PST On construction, used vehicles and restaurant bills, reducing the size of government, and exit the New West Partnership, instead implementing a Saskatchewan first policy. The New West Partnership is a free trade deal signed between provinces.

Other key economic platform points include removing the national transfer payment program, keeping coal power plants operating through the use of carbon capture and storage and demanding the completion of national pipelines, including implementing trade restrictions on Quebec goods of that province blocks pipeline progress.

The transfer payment program issue would be difficult to implement, in practice. It’s not something Saskatchewan can unilaterally scrap or change. The idea of Equalization was entrenched in the Canadian Constitution in 1982. Allocations are determined by measuring each province’s ability to raise revenues from natural resources and taxes.

It’s not up to one province, so long as they’re part of Canada, to opt-out of or change equalization.

Ending equalization would require a constitutional amendment, triggered through a referendum and then negotiation with the other provinces of the confederation.

Keeping coal plants open, meanwhile, would mean installing carbon capture and storage (CCS) on the remaining powerplants. The existing CCS unit was installed for $1.5 billion.

The Buffalo Party also includes six promises regarding “independence.”

One such platform point says the Buffalo Party would “bring forth legislation” to manage all taxes within the province, including federal taxes — similar to the model in Quebec. The Buffalo Party would also seek to disband the RCMP and instead implement a provincial police force and a shared municipal police force.

As for the Carbon Tax, they proposed creating legislation eliminating it and legislation making such a tax illegal in Saskatchewan. A decision is pending in a Supreme Court case surrounding the constitutional legality of the current carbon tax.

The Buffalo Party would also like to see Saskatchewan take over control of all trade of goods from the province, of its own immigration and over the province’s portion of the Canada Pension Plan.

They also want the province to have the right to elect all six senators that are chosen to represent Saskatchewan, the Lieutenant Governor and judges. All will be paid by the province, the party said, as it will have control of the tax system. They will also all be subject to recall, as the party promised to create a provincial petition website giving residents the power to request a referendum.

Administering taxes isn’t the only change the Buffalo Party is seeking taxation-wise. The party is also promising corporate tax reductions for agriculture start-ups, new upgraders and refineries and small and medium businesses.

Income tax will be removed and the province under Buffalo Party rule would see a flat tax of ten per cent. Corporate taxes would sit at 12 per cent for businesses with less than $10 million of taxable income and 15 per cent for those over that threshold. The PST/GST would be eliminated, they said, and replaced with an 11 per cent consumption tax. Anyone 70 or older would be fully exempt from taxes.

Further, the Buffalo Party said, businesses will have the choice to pay 50 per cent of the tax on their first million of taxable income into a Saskatchewan First Grant that would support future entrepreneurs, students in trades or specialized fields or large-scale infrastructure programs.

The party’s health care focus is a rural one. The Buffalo Party wants legislation to ensure rural health care levels are equal to those in urban areas. They would also increase funding to rural EMS, and would expand upon the public/private MRI system and bring CT scans under the same model.

As for education, the party proposes moving principals out of scope, emphasize trades and other careers, introduce courses on entrepreneurship, money management an marketing and reintroduce funding for home economics and industrial arts programs.

The platform said “education” needs to come back to the education system, and called for less “social programming and more “standard of education with reading, writing, history, math and sciences.”

They called for more non-educators on school boards, and for the Saskatchewan Teachers Federation to have less power.

The STF, they said, can so much as threaten job action and get whatever they want, the party argued.

They also promised an independent school association.

The party is only running 11 candidates, none in the province’s four largest cities.

While they can’t form government, Sira told CKOM he hopes the party can form opposition and be a stronger opposition than the NDP.