The spring session of the Saskatchewan Legislature has come to an end.
History is likely to look back on the session as one which will best be remembered as the post-COVID affair, although that is of course not strictly true. We appear to have some control of the pandemic in Saskatchewan at this point, but with every step taken back to the previous normal comes an increased risk of complacency by the general population and that means COVID-19 cases can flare up overnight.
However, the session was very much about the pandemic, offering up a budget that focused on a response to COVID-19, and was in the red with the culprit clearly being the disease from a Saskatchewan Party perspective, a position hard to argue with even if you might be among those who have questioned this government’s ability to accurately get revenues right in budgets.
But, the session is history now, and while July and August will hold our attention for a while, even without summer fairs and ribfests and Threshermen’s Shows to attend, we are now clearly on the path to the next provincial election.
NDP Leader Ryan Meili took the end of session to launch an initial volley if you will in the upcoming election battle when he suggested it was “the last day of a session that the premier didn’t want to happen. His big plan was to take us through the summer to an election with no scrutiny on his future plans, no plan to introduce a budget. And it was only because of public pressure that he finally agreed to do that. And we could see more as we saw the budget why it was that you didn’t want people to be looking at this.
“The budget itself, (a) very unambitious document, really missed the opportunity to make important investments in areas like long term care, childcare, and broader investments in people that will help grow our economy and failure to commit to a Sask-first approach to procurement to make sure that when we’re building public projects, we’re building them with Saskatchewan companies and Saskatchewan workers.”
And so the battle has begun.
Over the coming weeks the rhetoric of politics will run fast and furious as is always the cases in a province where people still generally take the freedom to vote as a responsibility and therefore still care enough to be part of the process.
That is a good thing.
This time around the choice will come down to whether the Saskatchewan Party is a bit ‘long-in-the-tooth’ as they say, a government whose best ideas have been used up, or whether they have at least one more term in them.
Meili of course thinks the government has run its best race and is fading.
The question is whether he and his NDP can offer up an alternative that gets far more voters thinking the same way than was the case in the last election, and that is something we will have to wait to find out.