Premier Brad Wall visits Meadow Lake

Premier Brad Wall gave a speech lasting about 30 minutes at the Meadow Lake Civic Centre last Wednesday. During last year's Northwest Regional Premier's Dinner, Wall was unable to attend due to issues with the weather. With flooding in the south and the recall of the legislature, there was worry he would again miss the event. "But it worked out well and we made it up here, it's a great province to be able to see in a hurry," he said. "This is a fundraising dinner and so they're very important for the party as we head into an election, because campaigns cost money."

By Ben Ingram

“Our economy will lead the nation this year,” premier Brad Wall promised supporters during his speech at a fundraising dinner held last Thursday, June 23 in Meadow Lake.

Wall’s speech focused on the economic vitality of the province and infrastructure investments made since his party’s election in 2007.

“That’s what growth pays for,” the premier often repeated.

But it was also a chance for Wall to set his sights on Saskatchewan Government and General Employees’ Union president Bob Bymoen who, leading crop insurance workers on a strike, recently described flooding in the province as a “window of opportunity.”

“A flood that is ravaging people, communities and farmers is a window of opportunity to get a better deal? That would be my question for him,” Wall said after the speech. “This is not the time for strike. Strike in the fall when these claims have been processed.”

The decision to recall the legislature on June 27, a move intended to force crop insurers back to work, became unnecessary the next day when SGEU agreed to terms closely resembling the government’s original offer of 5.5 per cent over three years.

With Saskatchewan headed to the polls in November, the party will be working to raise funds and run up support. As for the province’s recent onslaught of strikes, the premier hinted that he felt the timing may have something to do with the approaching election.

“These ones, they’re high profile,” he said, pointing to job action in healthcare and education. “We’re just slowly working through all the contracts, trying to bargain in good faith.”

While there may or may not be a connection between the proximity of the next provincial election and the numerous labour disputes of late, Wall admitted that there are concerns around the rising cost of living.

“The most fundamental issues are going to be around housing and cost of living issues. We also have a worker shortage in this province,” Wall said.

Of these larger concerns, the premier likened them to growing pains.

“I think you hope for the challenges of growth though. For decades the challenge this province faced was waving goodbye to young people.”

Headed towards the 2011 election, the party expects to maintain its current trajectory. While benefitting from a province experiencing record levels of growth, the popularity of SaskParty will likely remain high.

The governing party hopes to catch up on highway construction and maintenance after two wet years set the province back on its goals.

As for the fundraising dinner around 400 people purchased seats at $150 to show their support for SaskParty.

After an introduction from Meadow Lake MLA Jeremy Harrison, Wall approached the podium to the sound of Gwyneth Paltrow’s rendition of Country Strong.

“I like Country Strong,” the premier said with a smirk.

Podcast: Premier Wall’s speech to supporters at the June 22 SaskParty fundraiser

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