New Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe sworn in, cabinet announced
Newly-elected Saskatchewan Party Leader and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe speaks during the Saskatchewan Party Leadership Convention in Saskatoon, Saturday, January 27, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Liam Richards
The Canadian Press
Published Friday, February 2, 2018 6:19PM EST
REGINA -- Saskatchewan's new premier wasted no time Friday in presenting his new cabinet and calling voters in three constituencies to the polls.
"Our task ahead is not an easy one. There will be challenges," Scott Moe said after being sworn in at Government House.
"But it's our team, it's this cabinet, that will meet those challenges on your behalf."
Moe, the one-time environment minister who won the Saskatchewan Party leadership last weekend, replaces Brad Wall, who announced last summer that he was leaving politics after 10 years as premier.
Three former cabinet ministers who ran against Moe for the top job were all given portfolios.
Gordon Wyant was named deputy premier and education minister; Tina Beaudry-Mellor was appointed advanced education minister and minister responsible for the status of women and Ken Cheveldayoff was handed oversight of the Central Services Ministry.
Ten ministers retained their current cabinet responsibilities, including Finance Minister Donna Harpauer, Justice Minister Don Morgan and Health Minister Jim Reiter.
Two other ministers stayed in cabinet, but were moved to different portfolios. Bronwyn Eyre was shifted to Energy and Resources from Education and Christine Tell, who was head of Central Services, was named minister of corrections and policing.
Moe brought in one new face -- Warren Kaeding becomes minister of government relations as well as minister of First Nations, Metis and Northern Affairs.
The official Opposition criticized the 18-member cabinet for having too many of the same faces.
"Meet the new bosses; same as the old bosses," NDP interim leader Nicole Sarauer said in a release. "At a time when Saskatchewan's unemployment rate is the highest it's been in two decades and, for the first time in over 40 years, is as high as the national average, Saskatchewan people can't afford more of the same."
She said the new cabinet "has a majority of the same ministers who presented the cruel and heartless cuts and unfair tax hikes in the most recent Sask. Party budget.
"Premier Moe made it clear that he is ignoring the Saskatchewan people who have been calling for something better."
Last spring's austerity budget in the face of a $1.3-billion deficit caused primarily by slumping resource prices received a lot of blowback from unhappy voters. Reaction was so negative that the Sask. Party experienced a substantial dip in the polls and lost two Saskatoon byelections. Some of the cuts to government programs and funding were eventually scaled back.
One of Moe's challenges will be a new budget that is due soon and will have to keep fiscal conservatives happy, while winning back the public's trust.
He has also said he will continue in the footsteps of his predecessor Wall, who locked horns with the federal government over its order that all provinces bring in a carbon tax. Saskatchewan has no plans to do so.
First, however, will be the three byelections called by Moe on Friday. The new premier said he wants to ensure every Saskatchewan resident is represented when the legislature resumes sitting in March.
The Kindersley, Melfort and Swift Current seats are all considered Saskatchewan Party strongholds.
Swift Current was held by Wall, Melfort became vacant when Kevin Phillips died in November and Kindersley opened up when former cabinet minister Bill Boyd resigned amid a scandal over a government land deal.