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Farewell to Brad Wall
Hon. Ms. Heppner: — Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I was trying to think of what to say today. And I have these tiny moments where I have a sense of humour and I thought maybe I could tap some of that, but every time I sat down none of that came out. So I appreciate the fact that others have been able to inject some humour into the discussion today. But I’m going to speak from the heart and hope I get through it.
I don’t actually remember the first time I met Brad — I can’t look at you when I do this — but I remember my first day in this Chamber. I was elected in a by-election in March of 2007 and was sworn in. And within, I don’t know, minutes, I was asked to be up in question period. And the file that was given me was to defend and be a voice for the victims of Murdoch Carriere, which was a daunting task. And additionally daunting is the minister that I had to ask questions of was Pat Atkinson, who we all know was formidable in this Chamber.
And to have that kind of confidence instilled in me . . . And Brad didn’t really know me. He obviously knew my dad. He didn’t really know me. To be able to take on that file — and it was more than a file — and to be the voice for those women who had no voice was humbling. I recently was going through some boxes in my office and came across cards and notes that I had received from them afterwards, thanking me, thanking me for being that voice. But I was only able to do that because of the tenacity that you had and the leadership that you provided on that file.
It was the right thing for the right reason. It wasn’t about politics. We’ve had this discussion since then just to make sure that we were doing it correctly. And then after winning in 2007 and moving into government, we carried on because it was the right thing for the right reasons and offered a formal apology to those women and additional compensation, not that any of that could make up for what they had been through. But it was such an amazing lesson for me as a new MLA.
Well I love politics. I love question period and the give-and-take in this place, and hopefully you give more than you take. That was such an amazing moment for me to start my career off with that, so I want to thank you for your confidence in me in letting me be that voice and being an example of doing the right things for the right reasons.
I also want to thank you for having a family-first policy. As a lot of the members here will know, my little family has probably faced more than their fair . . . of challenges in the last few years. I had asked to be out of cabinet a few years ago so I could spend more time with my girls and that request was met with such amazing grace from you, and a genuine care and understanding of what we were going through and that my girls needed me at home. And there was never any judgment. This job always comes second, always comes second. And as important as it is, it is not the most important thing.
This is going to be the tough part. In the last ten and a half years here, I have never once professed to be able to speak on behalf of my dad. I’m going to try. And just to make sure that I wasn’t offside on this, I phoned Mother Heppner earlier this week to ask her permission and to run past her the things that I wanted to say just to make sure because I figured if anybody has the right to be offended, it would be my mom. And mom said, you go get ’em; that’s exactly what dad would want. And she passes on her love for you and you know that if she were here, she’d give you a great, big, squishy Mother Heppner hug and hold you up. And so on behalf of Mother Heppner, I wanted to pass that on to you.
I know what my dad would say if he were here, knowing the man that he was. First of all he would commend you on being a man of integrity. Integrity in the job that we do here doesn’t mean that you always get it right. It doesn’t mean that you’re blameless. It means that you enter into the actions that you take with sincerity and honesty and that when you make mistakes, you apologize. And we know that you have done that. And so he would commend you for that.
He would commend you for your humility. My dad was a very proud man, but he was not an arrogant man. And I see the same qualities in you. I see you cringe when people call you Premier Wall because you just want to be Brad to all of us. Whether inside this Chamber or outside this Chamber, that is the most important thing that you have surrounded yourself by is this humility, and people see it. They know that. That’s why they want to be your friend. That’s why they want to go for coffee with you. That’s why they want to fly out from BC and see you. They want to know just Brad the way that we do. We know that our time in this place is fleeting. The names on our doors, they’re removable for a reason because they are not long-lasting. And you know that.
Thirdly and maybe most importantly, he would commend you for your continued . . . to be continued to be offended by the use of bad grammar, propositions at the end of sentences, and the use of “irregardless” which we know is not a word, and we don’t know why people keep using it. So him being a former English teacher, he would certainly appreciate that.
The last visit I had with dad at RUH in Saskatoon before he moved into palliative care, Brad and I actually showed up at the same time. And it was, I think, one of the first times I’d actually had a conversation with you because I had been out in Ottawa. And so I let you have time with dad and I’m sure you talked about politics because dad was still looking forward to the 2007 election and he actually wanted to be Speaker. That was his plan. And so I let you have your time, and then I went in afterwards and had a chat with dad and again talking about politics. And at the very end of our conversations, one of the last things he ever said to me, with that smile on his face, he said “That man will be premier next year and he will do a good job.”
So on behalf of my dad who never doubted your ability, if he were here today he would say, I’m proud of you. Job well done.
Saskatchewan economic growth is projected to lead Canada in both 2018 and 2019 at a rate of 2.7%. Policy matters and so too does the vision, determination and hard work of the entrepreneurs and workers who have built and maintained our province’s resilient and diversified economy.
Saskatchewan has now enjoyed a decade of growth and our government is working to ensure we keep growing stronger. This fall we outlined our plan to strengthen our economy, continue improving important services, protect our communities, and carefully manage the province’s finances.
During the most recent sitting of the legislature, our government passed a bill allowing small business to pay less tax on more income. The bill extends the lower 2% tax rate and gives employers greater incentive to hire more workers, and invest in new capital right here in Saskatchewan.
Unfortunately, the Saskatchewan NDP stood in the Legislature and voted against these measures. In fact, they went so far as to call small business owners and entrepreneurs “elites” and they even complained that these tax changes only help the “wealthy and well-connected”.
Our government recognizes and appreciates the huge contribution small business owners make to Saskatchewan and we will continue to stand up for them.
These new tax measures mean that Saskatchewan will soon have the highest small business income threshold in Canada, building upon our government’s record of creating one of the strongest investment climates in the country, achieving our province’s first-ever Aaa credit rating, and among the strongest national job and wage growth over the last decade.
Just recently, for the third straight year, the C.D. Howe Institute revealed that Saskatoon has the most competitive tax rates for business investments of any major city in Canada. The annual report, which compares marginal effective tax rates across the country, ranked Saskatoon as more favourable than Calgary, which, prior to 2015, had the lowest rate. In fact, the provincial tax burden in Alberta is referenced as a significant contributor to Calgary’s slide in the rankings.
This C.D. Howe ranking was determined by measuring different taxes that affect businesses, including retail sales taxes, corporate income taxes, property taxes and land transfer taxes, among others. Policy matters and while this report ranks Saskatoon as the top city, the news also reflects positively on the tax competitiveness across the entire province. Since 2009, the province has provided residents, business owners and farmers $1.2 billion in education property tax relief.
Our province needs to fund important social investments while maintaining this competitiveness, and that’s why we’ve moved towards consumption taxes. While the NDP votes against measures to support small business, we are working to maintain investment and opportunity in the province.
Fall Session Highlights
The conclusion of the fall sitting of the Legislature provides an opportunity to reflect on an ambitious legislative agenda that included needed support for survivors of interpersonal violence.
I’m proud to say that our government worked together with the Opposition on legislation to provide survivors with 10 days of unpaid job protected leave to access services or relocate – part of our government’s larger effort to address the issue of interpersonal violence in Saskatchewan.
We recognize that interpersonal violence continues to be a serious problem for Saskatchewan families. In addition to this legislation we need to see a shift in attitudes about acceptable behavior and we need to develop measures to identify and prevent abusive relationships.
We will continue to work with our partners to develop long-term solutions. As a first step, the province will be working with other jurisdictions to seek agreement from the federal government to extend employment insurance benefits for survivors of interpersonal violence.
During the fall sitting, our government also moved to:
Fulfill its commitment to provide individualized funding to children under six with Autism Spectrum Disorder;
Improve the rate of organ donation in the province through a new program led by donor physicians;
Continue reducing health care administration costs through the consolidation of the province’s 12 regional health authorities into a single Saskatchewan Health Authority;
Introduce legislation to facilitate the federal government’s legalization of the use of non-medical marijuana, even though the province continues to have concerns about the federal government’s rushed timetable;
Work with municipalities to allow ride sharing-services like Uber and Lyft to operate in Saskatchewan;
Amend The Privacy Act to allow greater protection against the unauthorized electronic distribution of intimate images;
Create a process to improve the disclosure of decisions made by the Office of Residential Tenancies (Rentalsman’s Office) to better protect the rights of both tenants and landlords;
Continue to improve internet and cellular coverage throughout rural Saskatchewan;
Introduce an Agriculture Value Added New Growth Incentive to attract more investment; and
Introduce a new Seniors Education Property Tax Deferral Program that will give seniors with household incomes under $70,000 the option to defer the education portion of property tax on their homes.
While our government remains focused on innovative ideas to improve the lives of Saskatchewan people, the NDP continues to oppose our efforts without a plan of their own.
For example, when our government introduced a made-in-Saskatchewan climate change plan, something the NDP has asked for repeatedly, they voted against it.
When we introduced tax amendments to support small businesses in the province and spur economic growth, the NDP voted against it without proposing any alternatives.
And when we introduced legislation so ride-sharing services can operate in Saskatchewan as a tool to combat drunk driving, the NDP made it clear that they are against that too.
Even after a decade of growth, there is still a lot of work to do.
Our government has introduced many new ideas and initiatives and I’m excited to continue with our plan to keep Saskatchewan growing stronger.
If you have a question about this Legislative Report or any other matter, just Contact Nancy.