Tina Beaudry-Mellor is looking to continue Saskatchewan’s momentum while proposing some policy fine tuning during the first weeks of the Saskatchewan Party leadership race.
The Saskatchewan Party leadership hopeful was in Swift Current on Monday for a tour of the community and a chance to share some of her platform ideas.
“As I’ve been on this campaign trail interacting with my colleagues and the other candidates, there’s a new energy around the Saskatchewan Party that suggests to me that the Premier’s timing was brilliant,” Beaudry-Mellor said during an interview at The Booster offices. “And its forced us to get out into the grassroots to re-engage with people, to reach out to people we hadn’t reached out to before, and to stretch in terms of policy directions.”
With the Party beginning a transition away from Premier Brad Wall’s decade long leadership, she knows the Premier leaves large political shoes to fill.
“My initial reaction was an emotional one, one of sadness. He’s been a great leader for our Party. And as a former Political Scientist, I can tell you that those kinds of leaders that balance charisma with sharp political instincts and an ability to be both really a national and a North American leader on a number of fronts,” she said. “But then also to be the kind of guy that can walk into Riderville during the Grey Cup and mix with people, and have a beer, is really kind of a rare combination.”
The MLA for Regina University was elected in October 2016, and she previously served in government as Minister of Social Services and Minister responsible for the Status of Women. She is best known as a long-time political science instructor at the University of Regina.
She conceded there are many commonalities between the candidates in economic issues, as they are all against the Carbon Tax and fighting against the proposed federal government tax changes to small business. And clearly all the hopefuls are on board in helping strengthen Saskatchewan’s agriculture, mining, and resources sectors.
One of her early platform differences comes via a pledge to reinstate the PST exemption on insurance if elected leader.
“I got out to farms and talked to people and realized that there are multiple vehicles, hail insurance, crop insurance, life insurance, all those things that need to be plated. And realized these were people that were protecting themselves and their families financial security. And I don’t think I fully appreciated previously the real magnitude of the costs that were being imposed upon them, at the same time that the federal government is also pushing forward the small business tax changes that will be impacting those exact same farm families.”
“It is quite a financial burden, especially in the agricultural community at a time when they’re really carrying us in many ways, because of staggering resource prices, they’re carrying us. This is not the time to do that.”
And while rolling back this budget decision would result in needing to find $140 million in savings in other areas, she is committing to go forward with this reinstatement.
She said the SaskParty’s renewal opportunity comes after a pair of by-election losses (Saskatoon Fairview on September 7 and Saskatoon Meewasin on March 2).
“There is a significant amount of concern, stemming from the last budget in particular, that the SaskParty has kind of lost its ‘soul.’ We’ve always been a party, and certainly one of the reasons that attracted me to this party, was that we have always made social investments. We’ve tried to be fiscally prudent, but at the same time make targeted investments where they’re needed.”
Her inaugural campaign announcement was a social investment surrounding a Housing First initiative in an attempt to get homeless people off the streets and housed with supports around them. She also targeted adding financial literacy and entrepreneurship in the kindergarten to grade 12 curriculums, helping teach this important financial information to younger ages in response to growing consumer debt loads.
Beaudry-Mellor is looking forward to the first Saskatchewan Party leadership candidate debate in Swift Current on October 19, where she wants to further touch on Saskatchewan’s bright economic future.
“The Premier did a really good job in the last 10 years of changing the attitude mindset of Saskatchewan people,” she said. “We’ve seen the election of the Green/NDP in B.C., and we’ve got the NDP in Alberta. I think we have an opportunity to be a Western economic powerhouse. When I look at the resources that we have in this province, and the demand globally for those resources – whether they are food security type things or minerals or oil – there’s a demand for those things.”
“I think we have an opportunity to leverage those things. And given some of the relationships that we have with Washington, position us to be a Western economic powerhouse as a province in the next decade. And I think we have an opportunity to punch above our weight and I think we can get there.”