NEWS
04/27/2017 22:49 EDT | Updated 04/30/2017 17:25 EDT

Protesters out in force at annual Premier's Dinner in Saskatchewan

SASKATOON — About 350 people staged a rowdy demonstration Thursday outside the annual Premier's Dinner in Saskatoon.

Protesters objected to a variety of funding cuts by Premier Brad Wall in the recent provincial budget, and also said they objected to supporters being able to buy access to the premier.

The $250-a-plate event is sponsored by the Saskatchewan Party and is a fundraiser for the party.

Many of the protesters were from various labour groups including the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Service Employees International Union West, and the Saskatchewan Government and General Employees Union.

At times the demonstration got contentious, with traffic being blocked and protesters yelling at those attending the dinner.

Several drivers attempted to force their way through the crowd, with angry yelling matches breaking out after protesters were bumped by the cars.

One incident saw two protesters laid on the hood of a car that wouldn't stop, riding for 20 feet before the car stopped and they got off.

Bob Stadnichuk of the SGEU slapped bumper magnets reading "keep liquor public" on dozens of vehicles.

"Hopefully they'll see it and it'll be a nice memento to put in their treasure chest," he said.

Stadnichuk said he's been speaking out against liquor store privatization for two years, and now he's speaking out against Bill 40 which would allow for the sale of 49 per cent of each Crown corporation.

"We told people this is what was going to end up happening," he said. "Now they'll go after SaskTel and SaskPower."

No arrests were made.

Wall briefly referenced the protest during his speech at the dinner, noting his wife "made it through the demonstration."

After his speech, he addressed the issue to reporters.

"I said before the budget was introduced that this would not be a popular budget," he said. "We know people are upset. Obviously they're going to express that dissent as they did today."

He said the protests should be encouraged in a free society.

As for his speech, Wall again talked about challenging the proposed federal carbon tax in court.

"We will be the only province in Canada without a carbon tax," he told the crowd. "Because we're going to beat that case in court."

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was also in the province on Thursday making his case for the tax, saying it will reward people who are innovating and reducing their carbon output.

Another Premier's Dinner will be held in Regina on June 1.

(CJWW, CKOM)