Report from the Legislature – November 3, 2016

Government Taking Action to Combat Impaired Driving

Saskatchewan has the highest per capita number of impaired driving fatalities in Canada.  This week our government took further action to prevent impaired driving in Saskatchewan.  Effective January 1, 2017, amendments to the Traffic Safety Act will:

  • Add a three-day vehicle seizure for experienced drivers who are charged for the first time with having a blood alcohol content (BAC) over .04;
  • Apply zero tolerance for drugs and alcohol to drivers 21 and under; and
  • Strengthen ignition interlock laws to be the most effective in Canada, by extending mandatory ignition interlock to drivers who register a BAC over .16 or refuse to provide a breath sample (1st offence – two years; 2nd offence – five years; 3rd and subsequent offence – 10 years).

Our government also continues to explore other avenues to bring down the number of impaired driving deaths and injuries, including closer examination of the full B.C. model.  Our government has also committed to further support law enforcement efforts through more tools and funding.

To combat distracted driving, and in response to recommendations from law enforcement, government is also strengthening cellphone legislation by changing the offence to “holding, viewing, using or manipulating” a mobile device while driving, instead of the current “using” a mobile device.

Saskatchewan People Oppose Ottawa’s Carbon Tax

People across the province are signing petitions and at least three separate polls have shown that a strong majority of Saskatchewan people are opposed to the federal government’s plan to impose a carbon tax on Saskatchewan.

From the Saskatchewan Heavy Construction Association to the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce to the Agricultural Producers’ Association of Saskatchewan, there is real concern about how this tax would impact the province.

Those making a living in trade exposed, carbon intensive industries are especially vulnerable to a carbon tax.  Even the federal government’s own working group on carbon pricing acknowledges these industries will be at a competitive disadvantage.  According to the report, economists call this concept “carbon leakage”.  That is when jurisdictions with a carbon tax lose investment and jobs to jurisdictions without one.

This week Premier Wall sent a letter to Ralph Goodale, Saskatchewan’s only member of the federal Liberal government.  The letter asks him to stand up for the people he represents.  Saskatchewan NDP Leader Trent Wotherspoon was asked to stand with our government and the people of Saskatchewan in fighting a forced federal carbon tax by co-signing the letter – but he refused.

The climate change conversation must on innovation and adaptation, not an ill-conceived, federally-imposed carbon tax that will have little impact on emissions with the greatest risk to your job and pocketbook.  Instead of a carbon tax that will drive costs up and competitiveness down, we are asking the federal government to work with us on meaningful actions that will get results.

Until then we will defend Saskatchewan’s interests and the gains that got us to where we are today.  We will defend our economy and the quality of life that economy pays for.  We will fight for our interests in the court of public opinion and, if need be, in the courts of our land.