In his final speech as premier, Brad Wall called for unity after tonight's vote and took a few ardent swipes at the NDP here and next door.
What started as a teary-eyed thank you to the party for its “generous support” over the years to himself and family, took a more self-admitted partisan turn.
“None of the campaigns or the candidates, no matter who you marked on your ballot, are the opposition,” he said. “We only have one of those and I want to talk a little bit about them.”
He touted the continued strength and growth of the Saskatchewan Party, despite the recent “Buckley’s mixture budget” that was deeply unpopular and has dogged the government since March.
The impassioned speech was filled with calls for unity, with Wall saying, “this is the new Saskatchewan and hope wins here.” Wall stressed the need for party faithful to stay focused and remain optimistic in the future and into the 2020 general election.
“In this province, it is okay to win,” he said. “That is the new Saskatchewan and let's not risk it ever going back.”
But Wall quickly moved to barb Premier Rachel Notley and her NDP government in Alberta, something that has become commonplace for the premier during his final two years in office. He chastised them for running continued deficits and said the New Democrats in Saskatchewan had “lost touch” with its fiscally responsible roots in the 1990s. He maintained a need for the province to not follow suit and warned the NDP here may do the same.
Wall harshly criticised the LEAP Manifesto, a political document that most notably calls for an end to non-renewable energy development, saying it could not be "more anti-Saskatchewan if it were called the 'We hate bunny-hugs, perogies and Vi-Co manifesto.'”
Turning his sights federally, Wall remained a vocal opponent of Ottawa, a role he has fondly taken on since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberals took office in 2015. He slammed the federal government on its move to impose a carbon tax on the province.
“We don’t work for the feds. This party works for the people of the province of Saskatchewan,” he said to thunderous applause from the crowd inside Prairieland Park in Saskatoon.
The five candidates running to replace Wall at the helm of the party and province — Scott Moe, Gord Wyant, Ken Cheveldayoff, Alanna Koch and Tina Beaudry-Mellor — took the stage earlier in the day in a final push for votes.
First ballot results are expected at around 6 p.m.
Stay with paNOW for updates from Saskatoon.
On Twitter: @JournoMarr
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