Drought, the economy, and vote-splitting were among the items up for discussion as Premier Scott Moe toured the constituency of Saskatchewan Rivers with 2024 election Saskatchewan Party candidate Eric Schmalz on Friday.
Moe said when the Legislature is not in session he likes to visit as many constituencies as he can. The day began in the Resort Village of Candle Lake and ended with a tour of Alumarine Boats Manufacturing, a boat manufacturer north of Prince Albert.
“One thing I like to do is get out into a number of constituencies each and every year,” Moe said. “We’ve been in a number already this year and wanted to spend some time in the Saskatchewan Rivers constituency with our candidate in the next election, Eric Schmalz, so we were up in Candle Lake, over in Emma Lake meeting with the MD of Lakeland and a number of folks actually over lunch there, and then down here going through and touring Alumarine, an indigenous owned enterprise and quite a successful enterprise with growing sales, growing opportunity and, and one that, like so many places is looking for more people to become part of their team.”
There is an election coming in 2024 but a tour like this might lead to suspicion of an early election call but Moe dispelled any such rumours.
“We have the set date for elections in Saskatchewan and we haven’t had any discussion with respect to bumping that up,” Moe said.
“As far as this particular constituency goes, a long, long time been held by the Saskatchewan Party, most certainly Eric will be running for us to ensure that that’s the case into the future,” he added.
The summer has seen drought conditions and that continues to be on Moe’s radar. Moe said it’s a common concern he’s heard across the province.
Schmalz has also been out in the constituency in his other elected office as Reeve of the RM of Prince Albert. The RM has declared an agricultural emergency, however the area around Saskatchewan Rivers has had better prospects.
“We’ve been fortunate here in Saskatchewan Rivers,” Schmalz said. “We’ve gotten a few of the rains. There are areas that are of course suffering through a little bit of drought and some stuff like that, so it hasn’t been ideal for a lot of producers in the province, but we have been fortunate in Saskatchewan Rivers to be able to have that kind of luxury.”
Schmalz said the primary focus of the tour was to highlight and showcase some of the important things that are happening in the region and can help bolster Saskatchewan’s economy.
Moe also plans to stop in Melville this summer, and will visit Estevan next week.
Moe said he was pleased to be in Saskatchewan Rivers with Schmalz, a constituency currently represented by former Saskatchewan Party MLA and current Saskatchewan United Party leader Nadine Wilson.
Moe said vote-splitting between the two parties is a concern for him. While he’s confident Schmalz can win back the riding, Moe said vote-splitting between the two parties will only benefit the NDP.
“Eric will be our, our candidate in the next election and our focus is going to be for his constituency to return to being a Saskatchewan Party constituency with Eric Schmaltz as, ultimately, the MLA,” Moe said.
“I think vote splitting is what it is,” he added. “It’s been proven time and time again historically here in this province, and most recently when the NDP were successful in Alberta, vote splitting on the centre right of the political spectrum elects an NDP government every time that it happens in significant proportions.
“As we get to the general election, where people will have a choice between where they place their vote and there’s multiple parties that they can do that for, there’s two parties that ultimately can form government and we would like people in Saskatchewan Rivers to place their support squarely behind Eric Schmalz and the Saskatchewan Party.”
Schmalz has been busy in the riding as a new candidate as well. He’s been attending formal community events to get his name out there and attract voters.
Schmalz, who along with being the Reeve of the RM of Prince Albert, is an auctioneer who frequently does charity auctions is getting to know people in a different fashion.
“This is a little bit different,” he said. “I want to make sure that people are aware of who I am and not just behind the microphone.”
Moe was happy to be able to tour the constituency with Schmalz.
“I would say (it was) a great pleasure and very grateful for the host of people that we saw today who showed us around the communities and showed us what their communities are up to from a volunteer perspective, from an industry perspective, and how their communities really are growing and vibrant here in Saskatchewan Rivers constituency,” he said.
Moe added that he was happy Schmalz was able to host the tour building up to the next election.
“Eric will be on their doorstep asking for their support to be part of what would hopefully be a Saskatchewan Party government,” Moe said.