Canada Scott Moe's history steals campaign trail spotlight from party promises

12:51  09 october  2020
12:51  09 october  2020 Source:   cbc.ca

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SASKATOON — Saskatchewan Party Leader Scott Moe has publicly apologized to the family of a woman killed in a 1997 highway crash he was involved in. The apology came during a campaign stop in Saskatoon for the Oct. 26 election. Moe says he' s aware a family member of the woman recently

Scott Moe . From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 2.2 Saskatchewan Party Leadership Campaign . 3 Electoral history . 3.1 2016 Saskatchewan general election. Moe ' s campaign promises focused on restoring million in education funding to Saskatchewan schools, as well as the PST on health

a man wearing a suit and tie: Questions regarding convictions and charges against Scott Moe in the '90s have overshadowed a steady week of campaign promises coming from both of the front-running political parties vying for seats in Saskatchewan. © Matt Duguid/CBC Questions regarding convictions and charges against Scott Moe in the '90s have overshadowed a steady week of campaign promises coming from both of the front-running political parties vying for seats in Saskatchewan.

The second week of Saskatchewan's election campaign has been filled with promises, but they have been overshadowed by the pasts of the candidates, most notably Saskatchewan Party Leader Scott Moe.

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Scott Moe pictured Saturday before his final speech to party members before voting for the new party leader was closed. Moe ' s leadership campaign platform contained remarkably thin gruel with virtually no new ideas or major Moe made big promise on educational assistants, but will he deliver?

Two political scientists familiar with Saskatchewan politics said Thursday that while Moe's history has taken the spotlight from party promises, it could be only a temporary diversion.

"My sense is this will be a bit of a blip in the campaign and that it won't have a lasting effect," said University of Saskatchewan head of political studies Loleen Berdahl.

Tom McIntosh, a professor of politics and international studies at the University of Regina, agreed.

"I think what it's doing right now for the Sask. Party  is forcing them to confront this, deal with it and hope they can get past it for the rest of the campaign,"  McIntosh said.

He said the unexpected focus on Moe's past may be affecting Moe on the campaign trail this week.

"I'm sure it's sort of put him back on his left foot, so to speak."

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Moe's driving record has come under public scrutiny several times before. He was convicted of drunk driving in 1992 and involved in a fatal crash that killed Joanne Balog in 1997, for which he received a ticket for driving without due care and attention, a provincial traffic offence.

"I have never been one to hide from my past. This is not a fun part of politics when people are reaching back, you know, decades into when people were young adults," Moe said.

His record made news this week after Balog's son Steve spoke publicly for the first time, saying he hadn't known until recently that it was Moe who had been in the other vehicle. Steve has called for answers and a direct apology, but Moe told reporters he won't call the Balog family until after the Oct. 26 provincial election.

Moe has also refused to answer additional questions about the crash and about Steve, who has accused Moe of prioritizing political calculations over the needs of a grieving family.

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Scott Moe (born c. 1973) is a Canadian politician. He is the 15th and current Premier of Saskatchewan, in office since February 2018. He is a member of the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan for the riding of Rosthern-Shellbrook.

Moe reveals previously undisclosed impaired driving charge

On Wednesday, a previously unkown driving incident came up. Moe revealed that he had been charged by police in 1994 of drunk driving and fleeing the scene.

The charges were stayed two years later. On Thursday, Moe said he believes he had been straightforward with the people of Saskatchewan, having disclosed "the lion's share" of his driving record to the public.

He said he didn't mention the drunk driving charge from 1994 because he was not convicted.

University of Toronto associate professor of political science Erin Tolley said that after unwanted attention, candidates will "try whatever they can to change the channel."

"A big policy announcement, maybe a revelation about their opponent, anything to send the spotlight elsewhere. In Moe's case, I suspect the party will continue to emphasize that the charges were withdrawn and that he was not convicted," Tolley said.

Berdahl said Moe's challenge is one faced by many other politicians: confronting a shift in norms. She said drinking and driving was once considered a norm in rural Saskatchewan.

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"People's past statements, peoples past actions, peoples past social media tweets or posts ... can be very out of sync with what the current norms and values are," she said.

"There's that question of to what extent do we say this is problematic and to what extent do we say well that was then and this is now?"

Character and polarization

Last week, Saskatchewan Party candidate Daryl Cooper resigned after it was publicized he had been engaging with members of the QAnon conspiracy group online and shared an unproven theory about the cause of pandemics on planet earth.

Then Alex Nau, Sask. Party candidate for Regina Rosemont, apologized Sunday for inappropriate behaviour that he says was disrespectful to women.

On Monday, the Sask. Party released deleted Facebook comments from Regina Elphinstone-Centre NDP candidate Meara Conway.

One of the comments from 2018 said, "the tar sands are a f---ing nightmare period."

Moe called on NDP Leader Ryan Meili to "condemn" Conway's comments.

"I know each party will want to get a 'gotcha' moment on their opponents, either to embarrass them or to try to paint them as incompetent or undesirable on a key issue," said Melanee Thomas, associate professor of political science at the University of Calgary.

Thomas said in the case of Conway's post, "the NDP candidate is just the tool for Sask. Party's polarization strategy."

Mandryk: Ugly politics seeps into Moe's 23-year-old fatal crash

  Mandryk: Ugly politics seeps into Moe's 23-year-old fatal crash Why Scott Moe took until Tuesday to reach out to the sons of Jo-Anne Balog — the woman who died in a traffic fatality he caused in 1997 — is one of of those questions more easily answered in hindsight. He probably should have apologized back then. Sources close to him said Tuesday he was told at the time contact with the family in the circumstances would be unwelcome and inappropriate. He wasn’t the premier then. He was a 23-year-old coming off an underage DUI five years earlier — and a second DUI charge after a 1994 incident which was stayed. The public needs to know about these issues and needs to know the whole story.

"I'd argue that the goal here is to trade on that polarization by trying to pigeon-hole parties, rather than any serious attempt to get people to not vote for a specific candidate."

Information could damage perception of Moe's character

Thomas said when it comes to Moe's driving history, the issue "affects leader evaluations."

She said voters evaluate leaders on character and competence, "though character often matters more."

"The most likely effect here is that this information could damage how voters see Moe's character. For voters on the fence, or those who are open to voting for either party, this information could sway them, especially if they're giving Meili stronger character ratings," Thomas said.

Thomas said using political polarization as a strategy corrodes democracy. She pointed to the 2019 Alberta election as an example.

"[Polarization] can insulate a party from the potential negative effects of bozo eruptions or negative info coming out about candidates," Thomas said. "Once folks are polarized partisans, they are less likely to think this content matters (or more willing to accept it) because the goal is just about beating the 'other.'"

Incident not likely to derail a campaign, historian says

Penny Bryden, a history professor at the University of Victoria who has studied political scandals over the last century, said that for an incident like this to be considered a scandal, there has to be a lot of public outcry.

"If people care about it, it'll be significant. And it doesn't matter how many stories there are on the radio, TV or social media, if the people don't run with it — it isn't a scandal," she told CBC's Morning Edition.

Even if such an incident gets a lot of attention, it hardly ever derails an election, she said.

"If they don't play into an existing narrative about a politician, they tend not to have ramifications at the voting booths," she said.

Bryden pointed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's federal election success, which came despite the brownface scandal that surfaced just as his campaign began last fall.

"It may have affected the results in a small way, but it certainly didn't derail the Trudeau Liberals from marching back to power."

'Neither too shouty nor dull': Experts weigh in on Sask. leaders' debate .
Experts say the Saskatchewan leaders' debate on Wednesday night was civil and that both Saskatchewan Party Leader Scott Moe and Saskatchewan NDP Leader Ryan Meili did a good job of outlining their party platforms. Jim Farney and Winter Fedyk joined Sam Maciag, host of the CBC Saskatchewan News at 6, after the debates to share their insights. Farney is a political scientist and head of the University of Regina department of politics and international studies. Fedyk is a political strategist who started the Women for Saskatchewan website to amplify women's voices in politics.

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