Saskatchewan parties at odds over when, how to reconvene legislature

The Saskatchewan legislature has been on a hiatus for two months, and the Saskatchewan NDP say it's time to get back to work. Above: Premier Scott Moe (left) and Opposition leader Ryan Meili. File Photo / Global News

Opposition leader Ryan Meili is calling on Premier Scott Moe to reconvene the legislature so the government can be held publicly accountable for policy decisions being made during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“He doesn’t want to have these conversations, he doesn’t want to have his decisions examined in any meaningful way, he wants to limit the scrutiny that’s out there,” Meili said.

READ MORE: Saskatchewan legislators should be back at work, says politics professor: ‘I find it strange’

With the spring session on hiatus for nearly two months, NDP House Leader Cathy Sproule is calling for the 2020-21 budget to be tabled and scrutinized as soon as possible.

“The election is coming up in October. It’s time to introduce the budget, reintroduce committees and question period to get answers to questions forming around the province,” Meili said.

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From the coronavirus outbreak in the north and hospitals closing across Saskatchewan to spending that’s borrowed, Meili says important questions need to be answered.

“A core component of our work [as MLAs] is in the legislative building and I think it’s time for Scott Moe to get back to work in the legislature, and I’m sure ready to do that as well.” Meili said. “We’re ready to go.”
Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan legislators should be back at work, says politics professor: ‘I find it strange’' Saskatchewan legislators should be back at work, says politics professor: ‘I find it strange’
Saskatchewan legislators should be back at work, says politics professor: ‘I find it strange’ – May 13, 2020

On Thursday, Sproule met with Government House Leader Jeremy Harrison to discuss how MLAs can resume the spring session safely.

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But leaving the meeting, Sproule had “no clarity” of what the government is going to do. Moe has publicly stated Zoom will not be an option for legislators.

The NDP say they have presented the Saskatchewan Party government with a “mix of virtual and in-person” options to reconvene safely. Yet, as of Friday, no decision has been made.

The government said in a statement they will not politicize the discussions by negotiating in public. Harrison is expected to respond to Sproule’s request next week.

Question period has resumed in other parts of Canada including Ontario and Quebec — two provinces that have endured the brunt of Canada’s COVID-19 cases.

“We have no timeline even for an answer of when we will have a plan,” Meili said.

“It’s become quite frustrating, as we simply try to make sure the assembly does its job.”

READ MORE: Premier Moe wants Saskatchewan’s 2020-21 budget tabled, scrutinized before fall election

According to Meili, the spring session was adjourned under a mutual agreement between both parties that a budget would be tabled in the house prior to the general election on Oct. 26.

Earlier this week, Moe said he wants to have a budget tabled and scrutinized but deflected other inquiries to the house leaders who are tasked with putting an agreeable plan in place to reconvene.

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“I expect the premier to show us leadership, and get us back to the house,” Meili said.

“The fact of the matter is, he’s not giving an explanation because the real explanation isn’t flattering: he’s not interested.”

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