Scott Moe has emerged as the one who will replace Brad Wall as premier of Saskatchewan and leader of the Saskatchewan Party.
The Rosthern - Shellbrook MLA won on the fifth and final ballot, taking 8,075 votes, or 53.87 per cent. He edged out former deputy minister Alanna Koch by 1,161 votes, despite her taking an early lead.
“I will always stand with you. I will stand with your communities and I will always stand with Saskatchewan,” Moe said in his victory speech to a cheerful crowd at the Saskatchewan Party leadership convention in Saskatoon on Saturday.
Echoing a message from Brad Wall earlier in the night, Moe said the province was “a force to be reckoned with,” and tipped his cap to the outgoing premier, promising to build on the progress he made over the past decade. Moe reiterated a commitment to remember these achievements and said it all “has only begun.”
“We will never be afraid to set targets. We will balance the budget and weather this economic downturn,” he added, stressing a need to continue to grow the population and support businesses.
During the leadership campaign, Moe committed to reintroduce PST exemptions on health, life and crop insurance, boost funding avenues to a tune of $30 million for education and balance the provincial books by 2019.He also has set a goal to bring the population to 1.5 million by 2030.
During his speech, Moe also pledged to ensure a federal carbon tax is not forced upon the province by Ottawa. In a quip of remembrance to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s father Pierre, Moe said: “If you are wondering how far I will go; just watch me.”
Moe was first elected as an MLA in 2011. He has served as the minister of advanced education and the environment. He beat out Saskatoon Willowgrove MLA Ken Cheveldayoff, Saskatoon Northwest MLA Gord Wyant and Regina University MLA Tina Beaudry-Mellor for the top job. Rob Clarke did have his name on the ballot Saturday, though he dropped out of the race one month after announcing his candidacy in November. Meadow Lake MLA Jeremy Harrison also put his name forward in August but stepped back two weeks later.
Earlier in the night, Wall gave a podium-pounding final speech as leader. He took numerous swipes at the NDP here at home and those in neighbouring Alberta. Wall called for unity among party faithful after the vote and stressed a need to remain focused and optimistic heading into 2020.
Prince Albert Carlton MLA Joe Hargrave endorsed Moe in his campaign. Speaking to paNOW, Hargrave congratulated the new leader and said it was exciting to see Moe take the title as the first premier to come from a riding north of Saskatoon.
“It is a good thing for the province and a good thing for Prince Albert and the North,” he said. “Scott Moe will build on what premier Wall has done.”
Questions on party unity sprung up during the race as periodical infighting between camps took place. Hargrave believed this to all be a thing of the past and said members were congratulatory on the convention floor after the win.
“It was good,” he said. "I think we got people talking about the political scene again and got people engaged.”
Mayor Greg Dionne was vocal in his support for Moe throughout the race and was pleased to have a premier hail from just up the road.
“It really makes me feel good now that we got somebody from the North,” Dionne said.
While he did not believe Moe would grant any favours to the city, Dionne does believe his victory will help improve the perspective on the city and northern issues.
Dionne threw his weight behind Moe early on as he pledged to carry on a promise from Wall: funding for a regional hospital.
“It makes me feel good that that commitment now will be carried out.”
Prince Albert Northcote NDP MLA Nicole Rancourt congratulated Moe on his win but said he will have his work cut out for him.
“People in the province are really unhappy with the way the government has been going forward,” she said. “We know that because Scott has been at the cabinet table, that there is not going to be much change within the party.”
On Twitter: @JournoMarr
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