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Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall speaks to the media at the United Nations climate change summit in Le Bourget, France, on November 30, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall speaks to the media at the United Nations climate change summit in Le Bourget, France, on November 30, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

election

Wall to dissolve legislature as Saskatchewan election campaign starts Add to ...

The campaign-style announcements and door-knocking have long been under way, but today marks the official start of the Saskatchewan election.

Premier Brad Wall will ask the lieutenant-governor to dissolve the legislature, triggering a 27-day campaign for the April 4 vote.

Wall says the choice facing voters is about the economy.

“I don’t think they want any political party trying to buy their vote, especially when revenues are down due to the price of oil,” Wall said at an event Monday in Saskatoon.

“We’re going to have very few campaign promises. We need to watch the province’s finances. We need to ensure that the economy’s strong and that down the road there’s no need for massive tax hikes.”

Wall is going to the polls after the government tabled a third-quarter budget update forecasting a deficit of $427-million for the current fiscal year. Revenue from non-renewable resources is down $617-million, largely because of the low price of oil.

The premier has said there will be also be a deficit in the next fiscal year, but that the books will be back in the black in 2017-2018.

Wall told urban leaders last month that there isn’t much room for cuts and that left two choices — raise taxes or run a deficit, and the government opted for the deficit.

However, the premier has also repeatedly said Saskatchewan’s overall economy is strong because it is diversified.

NDP Leader Cam Broten says the government drained the rainy day savings fund during the sunniest days in Saskatchewan and put nothing aside long term.

“The question for families that we’re facing is, in tight times who can you trust to protect and to fix health care and education,” Broten said at campaign launch event in Regina on Monday night.

“And when we look at the record for the Sask. Party, they didn’t get the job done during boom years. We certainly can’t trust them in tighter years.”

Broten has been travelling the province making campaign-style promises in the week leading up to the official start of the campaign. He says health care and government spending will be very important issues in the election.

Saskatchewan voters last went to the polls in November 2011, when Wall and his Saskatchewan Party won a second term in office.

Charles Smith, a University of Saskatchewan political science professor, told The Canadian Press in December that Wall is the Saskatchewan Party’s strongest asset heading into the election.

Wall always ranks at or near the top when it comes to the most popular premiers in the country.

He has vehemently opposed a national carbon tax saying it would “kneecap” a struggling Canadian economy; has called for the abolition of the Senate; and has championed pipeline projects.

Broten is heading into his first campaign as NDP leader.

The NDP needed to rebuild after the party suffered a crushing defeat in the 2011 vote that left it with just nine seats in the legislature. Broten threw his hat in the ring for the top job and won the leadership in March 2013.

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