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Moe calls federal election 'most pointless' in nation's history

Premier Scott Moe has broken his near total silence on the federal election campaign, calling the nearly unchanged results a distraction.

Premier Scott Moe has broken the silence he kept almost throughout the federal election campaign, which he framed as a resounding verdict against Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau from Saskatchewan voters.

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In Moe’s view, Trudeau called “the most pointless election in Canada’s history” and stoked divisions with conservative premiers. Yet the premier expressed hope that the incoming minority government will work with Saskatchewan, rather than simply ignoring a province that shut out the Liberals for a second election in a row.

“We are Canadians,” Moe said of Saskatchewan people. “We didn’t vote for this prime minister — very few people in this province did — but he represents us as our prime minister. So I would ask him, as premier on behalf of the people of this province of Saskatchewan, to work closely with this province of Saskatchewan, to quit putting forward these divisions like you did in the election campaign.”

Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau delivers his victory speech at election headquarters in Montreal, on September 20, 2021.

As of Tuesday, preliminary federal election results showed turnout at just over 60 per cent in Saskatchewan. The Conservatives took just short of 60 per cent of the total vote counted in the province, down from 64 per cent in 2019. The NDP were up a hair to 21 per cent, while the Liberals fell to just 10 per cent of the vote. For Moe, that means nine out of 10 Saskatchewan people “don’t want this man to be prime minister of Canada.”

Neither the Liberal campaign nor the prime minister’s office immediately responded to an interview request with a party representative to rebut the premier’s criticisms, or to explain how they will work with Saskatchewan.

The new Parliament will look almost precisely like the old, at least in terms of seat count, with parties trading a handful of seats but ending up more or less where they started. Moe saw it as a senseless exercise, a distraction and a waste of money.

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“The prime minister spent over $600 million of your dollars — taxpayer dollars — and five weeks further dividing the country to arrive at almost the same result that we had two months ago in the House of Commons,” he said.

He said Trudeau’s time and attention would have been better spent on working with provinces on health funding, vaccination support in Indigenous communities or preparing for the economic recovery Moe is sure will come. “Instead, this prime minister has been focusing on his own political ambition,” said the premier.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe addressees the media regarding the results of the previous day’s federal election during a news conference held in the rotunda at the Saskatchewan Legislative Building in Regina, Saskatchewan on Sept. 21, 2021. Photo by BRANDON HARDER /Regina Leader-Post

Saskatchewan NDP Leader Ryan Meili agreed with Moe that the election was a waste, saying the status quo result “certainly does call into question whether this was the right time to be doing this.” But he saw hypocrisy and smokescreens in the premier’s remarks Tuesday.

“Stoking division is not something that Scott Moe should accuse anyone of,” said Meili. “He’s thrilled to be able to talk about this right now. This is what he wants to talk about, something he can point the finger at anyone else but himself.”

Meili saw the election results in Saskatchewan as a rejection of a “very unpopular” prime minister, rather than an endorsement of conservative politics. He does not think it will spill over into provincial politics. Besides, he’s happy to see a minority government in Ottawa where the federal NDP can push for pharmacare, dental care and other priorities.

Moe held his tongue during the 36-day election campaign, except when directly attacked over his COVID-19 management or an MRI system the Liberals cast as two-tiered health care. Asked why he didn’t raise his priorities while Canadians were watching and parties making promises to win their votes, Moe said there was “no functioning government” to address. That did not stop him in 2019, when he promised to “call them like we see them.”
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Conservative Party of Canada Regina—Qu’Appelle candidate Andrew Scheer addresses the media about results from the Canadian federal election at a space inside the Ramada Hotel in Regina, Saskatchewan on Sept. 20, 2021. Photo by BRANDON HARDER /Regina Leader-Post

On election night, re-elected Regina—Qu’Appelle MP Andrew Scheer vowed that the 14-member-strong Saskatchewan Conservative caucus would keep the pressure on. He promised they will “fight for a fair deal for Saskatchewan.”

Like Moe, he accused the Liberals of running a divisive campaign that pitted region against region. He said the results in Saskatchewan are a sign that its voters are “sick and tired of the double standards, the attacks and the outright hostility from this Liberal government.”

Scheer said he will advocate for a better deal for ranchers struggling with drought and stand up for Saskatchewan energy workers. He also vowed to “watch like a hawk” in case the Liberals follow through on a threat to claw back health funding due to Saskatchewan’s private MRI system.

Despite his harsh words for Trudeau, Moe sees chances for co-operation. He mentioned his carbon pricing submission — which the federal government has already brushed aside — as one possibility.

“Yes, at times we have been somewhat bullheaded and taken the federal government to the Supreme Court of Canada when necessary, and we may again, but we have put forward our best foot time and time again, only to be rebuffed time and time again by this prime minister,” said Moe.
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