If anything, Moe should be chastised for giving oxygen to such nonsense. But we should probably ask why he would be willing to do that.
Nobody really thought Premier Scott Moe would look a gift horse in the mouth when it came to the federal government’s proposed 10-year, $196-million increase to the Canada Health Transfer.
It just made no sense for him or any other premier to balk at free federal money to fix the one thing their voters most complain about.
Then again, who expected Moe to join Alberta Premier Danielle Smith to address the conspiracy theories that the federal government wanted to tie future health funding to digital ID? Really? Aren’t there about a million more pressing matters in health-care delivery?
On Monday, Moe pretty much dispensed with the notion that the feds tracking you through digital health ID was ever a thing.
Interestingly, neither this response nor his decision to welcome the CHT hike is going over well with the people pushing Moe’s Saskatchewan Party government to move further right.
“It was far lower than what the Premiers had been asking for … for two full years,” Moe told reporters of the deal. “That being said, it is an increase and any increase in the area of health care is certainly appreciated.”
Appreciated? Now, there’s something we don’t often hear from the Saskatchewan premier in his dealings with Ottawa.
“I don’t see anything alarming with respect to the priorities (the federal) government have and how they align with provincial priorities,” said a conciliatory Moe, adding his government can now get down to the business of addressing health-care training and retention and finding efficiencies in delivery.
Not everyone is enamoured with such level-headed stewardship.
The day after Moe’s Monday scrum, the Saskatchewan United Party (SUP) tweeted: “Moe did not get what he wanted out of the Feds in this healthcare ‘deal’. Worse yet, he has not been upfront about what he’s given away to PM Trudeau in order to secure the funding.”
The SUP and its lone representative in the assembly, Saskatchewan Rivers MLA Nadine Wilson, long ago flagged “digital ID” as a concern — a frequent talking point in the anti-vaccine community.
“No, there was no request (from the federal government) to my knowledge,” Moe told reporters on Monday, although he acknowledged receiving a “couple hundred letters” demanding he reject any new federal funding tied to digital health ID.
“By no means will people’s personal health data be shared nor can it be legally … And nor was it ever requested.”
Of course, many will rightly point out Moe deserves no credit for not doing what he admits he couldn’t legally do and couldn’t do anyway because the government doesn’t even have access to what the premier calls “micro-data” that stays confidential between patient and doctor.
If anything, Moe should be chastised for giving oxygen to such nonsense. But we should probably ask why he would be willing to do so.
Well, it’s about sending signals to keep potential SUP supporters within the large Sask. Party tent.
By coincidence, PressProgress reported this week that the SUP’s largest financial backer is one-time Sask. Party donor Joseph Bourgault of Bourgault Industries. Testimony at the Emergencies Act committee heard that Bourgault paid for hotel rooms of Ottawa convoy supporters. Most recently, he’s backed the campaign of anti-vaxxers like former NHL player Theo Fleury and figure skater Jamie Sale.
One doubts Moe spends much time reading such alternative press, but one can bet that he’s paid lot of attention to what Bourgault has been doing.
He would do this for the same reason he specifically addressed Buffalo Party supporters on 2020 election night or wrote a glowing support letter to the Freedom Convoy or took every available potshot at Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau he possibly could.
Whether it’s the loss of donations or lost votes in its rural stronghold, the only threats the Sask. Party sees are the ones coming from the right.
So thus Moe’s need to pander to conspiratorial theories surrounding digital ID … even when he knows the threat isn’t real and when there’s more important jobs to do.
Mandryk is the political columnist for the Regina Leader-Post and the Saskatoon StarPhoenix.
Mandryk: United Party driven by COVID-19 restrictions and older issues
Mandryk: Moe fails to explain issues in eagerness to bash Trudeau
Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.
Join the Conversation