POLITICS

New NDP leader, premier debate policy, mistakes in Saskatchewan legislature

03/11/2013 06:19 EDT | Updated 05/11/2013 05:12 EDT
REGINA - Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall and NDP Leader Cam Broten have faced off in the legislature for the first time since Broten won the party's leadership over the weekend.

Broten kicked off question period Monday by attacking the government's track record on budget cuts, including the elimination of the aboriginal employment development program.

"If we want success for everyone in this province, it means extending opportunity to more and more people," Broten said.

"My question to the premier, does he recognize that it was a mistake to cut the aboriginal employment development program and if he recognizes that it was a mistake, if he is about admitting mistakes, will he fix this in the upcoming budget?"

Wall fired back by trying to link Broten to former NDP leader Dwain Lingenfelter and the party's 2011 provincial election campaign platform, especially the contentious idea of resource revenue sharing with aboriginal groups.

"These are his policies, they're Mr. Lingenfelter's policies. If he's changed them now or changed them as a result of his campaign, he should say so," Wall said.

The premier noted that the Saskatchewan Party made a mistake in the 2003 election campaign when it talked about privatizing Crown corporations.

After losing the 2003 election to the NDP, Wall said the party started from scratch on a massive policy review.

"You know, we haven't heard that — with the greatest of respect to the new leader who I do think is a good guy and will serve their party well — we haven't heard that from him or from the interim leader," Wall said.

The NDP was left with just nine of the 58 seats in the legislature after the 2011 provincial election.

Broten said the party has a lot of work to do to rebuild trust.

"I think the way that we brought forward the ideas in that election, there were mistakes being made in there because you don't lose elections by chance — that's a recognition," Broten said.

"What I'm looking for right now is how we as the new NDP here in the province can do better."