Sask Party leadership candidate Ken Cheveldayoff stopped in Maple Creek Nov. 24 as part of his southwest tour.
Cheveldayoff took to the Cobble Creek Lodge to spread his message of wanting to “build a powerful, innovative and compassionate Saskatchewan” in hopes of attracting local voters to consider him as Premier Brad Wall’s replacement.
Cheveldayoff outlined his plans for the province and rural Saskatchewan while addressing questions from the community. He was immediately put on the hot seat, answering concerns regarding agriculture, Internet access, small businesses and the choice of the province to privatize liquor sales.
Cheveldayoff took some time to speak with the News-Times on why he is the ideal candidate and how he would work to address some of the severe issues facing the province and how he plans to make sure the problems of rural Saskatchewan are brought to the forefront.
“I don’t think someone will fill Brad Wall’s shoes but someone has to take the torch from him and keep it moving,” he said.
Cheveldayoff says he plans to continue the 10 years of growth the province has experienced but in order to move forward, the party needs to recognize they’ve made mistakes and bring forward better solutions.
“I think we are on the verge of another 10 years of growth, but we’ve made mistakes in particular with the last budget, and we know we can do better,” he said.
A self-described fiscal conservative, Cheveldayoff said he is opposed to the federal carbon tax and a $15/hour minimum wage. He believes that if the people of Saskatchewan work hard to balance their books, so too should the government.
Libraries and Schools —
There has been much uncertainty when it comes to libraries and schools in this region. Announced budget cuts at the beginning of the year to the Chinook region’s schools and libraries created unnecessary panic as those cuts were reversed later on. Cheveldayoff says it’s important for the province to be invested in libraries, but they also want to make sure they are running efficiently.
“I think we need to be committed to libraries, but I think we also need to be committed to making them function in a way that is very responsible to taxpayers as well,” he said.
One of the big concerns of rural Saskatchewan is the access to faster Internet. The current speed has made it so local businesses have a hard time providing fast and effective services to customers. Cheveldayoff, former minister of Crown corporations, plans to require SaskTel to provide a minimum high-speed Internet service to farms and rural areas of 10 megabytes per second within two years, and 25 megabytes per second within five.
“Right now SaskTel spends too much money on capital expenditures, about $300 million a year, and I want to take 10 per cent of that and allocate it to providing a better service in rural areas,” he said.
Saskatchewan is experiencing the worst HIV rates in the entire country. Physicians have called on the province to declare a state of emergency on HIV, but one has yet to be put in place. And though the provincial government has pumped more money into testing and treatment, the numbers have not changed.
“The HIV rates are very much a concern, and I would be in favour of whatever innovative way we could address them,” he said. “I think we are going to see some positive things with the new health region. The government will be able to act very quickly in areas that maybe took a long time before, but I’m very confident in the new board that they will be able to tackle these issues effectively.” Cheveldayoff is also in favour of making 25 the legal age to purchase marijuana in the province.
Cheveldayoff, who was raised in Blaine Lake, says he will work hard to make sure the voices of the rural are heard.
“I know what it’s like to live in a small town and to have those needs and wants,” he said. “Maple Creek is a thriving community here, but we have to make sure people feel that they are getting value from their government.”
The deadline for membership sales for those wanting to vote is Dec 8, with the leadership election held on Jan.27.
NEWS PHOTO FACUNDO RODRIGUEZ
Sask Party Leadership candidate Ken Cheveldayoff stopped by Maple Creek Friday as part of his southwest tour, speaking with locals on his plan if he becomes the next premier. Cheveldayoff also made stops in Gull Lake, Eastend and Shaunavon.