Thursday, May 25, 2017

Saskatchewan premier Wall faces protests at dinner party he hosts

Hundreds of protesters from more than a dozen groups converged outside the Premier's Dinner location in Saskatoon where Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall gave a keynote speech.

Hundreds of people rallied outside the Premier's Dinner venue in Saskatoon Thursday night, where Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall gave a keynote address. The dinner was held at Prairieland Park, Hall A. The dinner was hosted by the ruling Saskatchewan Party led by Wall. Drivers on nearby Ruth St. found themselves surrounded by sign-waving protesters speaking through megaphones. Wall's popularity has dropped since he introduced a budget with many cuts.
Among the more controversial moves was to do away with the provincial bus service run by the provincially owned Saskatchewan Transportation Company (STC) as described in a recent Digital Journal article.
Cindy Harrison, a spokesperson for Stop the Cuts, a coalition of 12 organizations that organized the rally noted that cutting the STC would hurt rural people particularly: "We think the cuts are unfair and they were done without consultation and we're not willing to accept them. Saskatchewan has one of the highest rural populations in Canada. The cuts to STC will hit rural populations." She noted that while the protesters were feasting on hot dogs, those attending the dinner were paying $250 dollars a plate. Harris said that cash for access system was unfair when Wall was cutting services to the people of Saskatchewan. Federal Liberals have had similar events to raise funds.
Wall defended the right of the protesters to express their views:"We live in a kind of a society where people I think are not just free but encouraged to express what they believe. We know people are upset and obviously they're going to express that dissent as they did today and they should be welcomed and encouraged to do so. I knew before the budget was introduced that this was not going to be a popular budget and we made these difficult decisions because we strongly believe they're in the best interests of the province and the long-term interests of Saskatchewan."
A recent Mainstreet poll commissioned by Postmedia reveals the effects of the provincial budget, released last month, on Wall's popularity. In October Wall had a 52 percent approval rate but now only 46 percent approve of the job Wall is doing while 45 percent disapprove, with the remaining 9 percent undecided. The Mainstreet vice-president said that the poll numbers were mainly a result of the budget. Wall lost most approval in the two main cities Saskatoon and Regina whereas he did better in rural ridings. The budget itself was approved only by 26 percent with 45 percent disapproving. 51 percent disapproved of doing away with STC while only 18 percent approved. The poll was conducted March 30 and 31. 1,704 people were surveyed, using landlines and cellphones. A random sample of this size has a margin of error of +/- 2.37 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

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