With an election this fall in Saskatchewan the leaders of the province’s political parties are certainly getting out to communities such as Yorkton.
Last week Premier Scott Moe visited the city and Thursday New Democrat leader Ryan Meili was in Yorkton.
“We’re touring the province ... Sharing our vision for the future ... It’s an election year,” said Meili, who did add in the case of the Yorkton visit he had been invited to address an FSIN meeting being held in the city.
Not surprisingly the rail blockades were a topic at the FSIN meeting.
“There was some discussion but not as much as I expected it might be,” said Meili.
While Meili said Thursday, “we want to make sure rail traffic is moving,” he was not suggesting using force to make it happen.
“If you send in the police ... you could simply make things worse,” said Meili, adding a negotiated end to the issue made more sense.
Not surprisingly in a generally rural area such as Yorkton, Meili said he was also hearing concerns that farmers need some relieve from the added cost the carbon tax put on them in drying grain last fall.
“It’s something we called for in the fall,” he said, suggesting relief on the carbon tax portion of drying costs, adding “... eventually the Saskatchewan Party came along with us,” on the idea.
Meili said he has been in contact with the Liberal government in Ottawa on the issue, and holds out some hope there will be something in the upcoming federal budget.
Meili said farmers could be helped with the hardships of last fall with an adjustment in AgriStability, tweaking the threshold for it to kick in from when income drops below 70 per cent, to below 85 per cent.
“A lot more people would qualify for relief. That would be very appropriate,” he offered.
Meili added he knows the hurt is real, especially for some producers since he sees a lot of crop still in the field as he travels around the province. That is income farmers have not been able to access, and they face the cost of spring harvest, plus the pressure in time when seed should be going in.
So what is the mood headed to a fall election?
“It’s so different from when I first started to be involved,” said Meili, adding while the Saskatchewan Party used to get the benefit of the doubt with a lot of voters “that’s gone” now.
Meili said increases in the provincial sales tax, the cut of STC buses, and issues with health care and education funding has voters looking more closely at the current government and how it has managed the province.
Locally, the next big step for the NDP is announcing a candidate.
Meili said the search is under way, and they expect to have someone in place in the next couple of months, adding sooner is better.
“We need to be knocking on doors,” he acknowledged.