Social responsibility and more dialogue keys for Wyant in Sask Party leadership race

Gord Wyant Saskatchewan Party Leadership

Gord Wyant was in Swift Current yesterday on his Saskatchewan Party leadership campaign.

Stressing the importance of renewal for the governing party, he said how exactly that looks will depend on what they hear from the people of Saskatchewan.

"I think one of the things that happens as a government I think as you get older, you perhaps get a little bit more insular," said the Saskatoon North West MLA. "I think one of the things that we need to do better as a party, which we used to do very, very well, is talk to the grassroots. And not just members of our party, but talk to people right across the province whether they're supporters or not."

Wyant recently cancelled his membership with the Liberal Party of Canada. And his views on the federal government's proposed tax changes are in line with the Liberal caucus members that have spoken out against it rather than with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau or Finance Minister Bill Morneau.

Wyant said the proposals are an attack on the middle class, and people that have "spent their life tax planning for their retirement, tax planning for intergenerational transfers of business" instead of just wealthy people like doctors and dentists.

"You'll see me continuing to fight and argue as strongly as I can to oppose those changes simply because of the fact that the effect that it's going to have on small business in Saskatchewan - farming community, ranching community, plumbers, electricians, everybody's going to be affected by it."

A lawyer by trade, Wyant won his seat in a 2010 byelection and has since served (until declaring his candidacy for the Saskatchewan Party leadership) as minister of justice and the province's attorney general.

Wyant said for programs like Swift Current youth shelter Dorie's House, "it's incumbent on the government to look at the programming, to see if the programming is efficient and effective - and if it is, then I think it's worth considering in terms of additional funding from the province."

The youth shelter - which opened in January - is expected to close October 4 due to a lack of funding. They've not been able to secure any funding from the provincial government.

The Saskatchewan Party was a coalition of the provincial Liberals and Progressive Conservatives. And Wyant wants the party to not lose sight of the government's social responsibility while practising fical conservatism.

"We (the members of the Saskatchewan Party) are all fiscal conservatives," he said. "We all want to balance the budget. We all want to live within our means. You have to live within your means in your family, and I do too. So I think that's an important principle. But we can't lose sight of the fact that we have a social responsibility - to make sure that we take care of people. And I think making sure that we continue to govern from the centre has got to be an important part of renewal - making sure we remember where we came from, because that's the foundation of this party."

As part of trying to increase dialogue, Wyant wants to bring back annual policy conventions instead of holding them every two years as is the case now.

Running against Wyant for leadership are Tina Beaudry-Mellor, Scott Moe, Ken Cheveldayoff, and Alanna Koch. The first of six debates takes place in Swift Current on October 19. The new leader is expected to be announced on January 27.

This story was originally posted on Swift Current Online

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