SIGN THE PETITION
Do you think the current Government led by Scott Moe should be made to establish an independent Inquiry to inquire into and report on the Government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in Saskatchewan? Together, we can make that happen by petitioning to hold a province wide plebiscite!
What is the petition question?
“Should the Government of Saskatchewan establish a Commission of Inquiry under The Public Inquiries Act, to be chaired by a federally-appointed judge or retired judge, to inquire into and report on the Government’s fiscal, social and public health policies successes, plus identify deficiencies in the actions leading up to and during the COVID-19 pandemic in Saskatchewan, for each category, making recommendations for a safer and healthier future Saskatchewan?”
Scott Moe’s Government must be accountable to the people.
What is a Plebiscite?
It is a direct vote of all the members of an electorate on an important public question.
How does it differ from a referendum?
According to The Referendum and Plebiscite Act, a referendum is initiated by the sitting government. A plebiscite, however, can be triggered by introducing a successful petition to the Lieutenant Governor in Council.
Is a plebiscite legal in Saskatchewan?
Yes. The Referendum and Plebiscite Act provides for a petition to force a vote on an issue within the scope of the jurisdiction of the Government of Saskatchewan. The appointment of a commission to conduct an inquiry into the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic by the Government of Saskatchewan is a matter of public importance in the province and is a matter that falls within the province’s jurisdiction. It is, therefore, an issue in respect of which a petition to force vote is possible.
Are public inquiries legal in Saskatchewan?
Yes. The Public Inquiries Act allows the Lieutenant Governor in Council (ie. the Provincial Cabinet) to establish a commission of inquiry “to inquire into and report on a matter that the Lieutenant Governor in Council considers to be of public interest”. The commission is required to deliver a report in writing to the minister responsible for the Act, and the minister is required to release it to the public within two weeks of receipt. The commission determines who is able to participate and whether they receive funding to do so. The commission’s hearings are required to be open to the public.
The commission has the authority to compel witnesses to testify and can issue a summons to that effect. It can also inspect premises, require the production of records, and remove for examination and copying anything that may be relevant to the inquiry.
Commissions of inquiry under The Public Inquiries Act are not appointed frequently. One was appointed to investigate the shooting death of Leo Lachance by Carney Nerland in January 1991; the North Battleford Water Inquiry was appointed to investigate the cryptosporidium outbreak in that city in April 2001; and, of course, the Stonechild Inquiry in 2004. All of these inquiries were conducted by Judges or former Judges.
How many signatures does a petition need to successfully trigger a plebiscite?
To force a plebiscite, a petition requires approximately 126,000 signatures.
The Referendum and Plebiscite Act requires that a petition must be in the prescribed form, contain the signatures of at least 15% of the electors, set out the name of one of the petitioners who is an elector who is essentially a representative of the petitioners, and request that a question concerning a matter within the jurisdiction of the province be put to a vote on a plebiscite.
Who is eligible to sign?
Anyone registered to vote in Saskatchewan can sign.
The term “elector” is defined in The Referendum and Plebiscite Regulations to mean a person who is a qualified voter pursuant to The Election Act AND whose name is included in the voters’ list prepared for use in the last general provincial or federal election or the last municipal election.
The Election Act provides that a person is entitled to vote if the person is a Canadian citizen and is at least 18 years old OR is a British subject and was qualified to vote on June 23, 1971 AND has been ordinarily resident in Saskatchewan for at least six months. The Election Act also disqualifies persons who have been convicted in the previous five years of engaging in corrupt practices in relation to elections. Any person who signs the petition must be eligible on the date that they sign.
What is the process from successful petition to plebiscite?
When the petition has collected the requisite number of signatures, it must be presented to the minister responsible for the Act, who must transmit it to the Chief Electoral Officer. The CEO must determine whether the petition has been signed by 15% of the electors, as required. If the CEO determines that a sufficient number of eligible electors has signed the petition, he must report that to the minister and the minister must order a vote on the petition question to be held not more than 12 months after receiving the report from the CEO.
The minister may make an application to a court to change the wording of the question “to more clearly express the intent of the petitioners” or to argue that the matter is not within the jurisdiction of the Government of Saskatchewan and therefore not a valid issue for a plebiscite. If that happens, court documents are to be served on the representative of the petitioners who is indicated in the declaration attached to the petition when it is submitted.
Jeff Walters – Biography
Who is Jeff?
Jeff Walters grew up with working-class values and a firm belief that any obstacle can be overcome with perseverance, hard work, and the conviction of one’s beliefs.
Raised by a loving couple with roots in Saskatchewan going back generations, they taught him their commitment to opportunity for all, regardless of class, race, gender, age, or religion.
Jeff worked his way through university with the help of scholarships and student loans. Specializing in Human Rights, he attained a PhD (ABD) in Sociology.
He came to Regina permanently in 2006 to work as a Senior Programs Officer for Agriculture and Agri-food Canada.
Jeff moved on to the Federal Indian Residential Schools Adjudication Secretariat, specializing in compensating victims of residential schools in Canada. He next worked at SGI CANADA as a Corporate Business Consultant advising senior management.
In 2012, Jeff received his first contract to teach a course at the University of Regina as a sessional lecturer. Currently, he is one of a handful of full-time and high-ranking sessional instructors at the University of Regina. He teaches mainly for the Departments of Sociology and Justice Studies.
Why Am I Doing This?
While publicly I am an instructor at the University of Regina and leader of the Saskatchewan Liberal party, first and foremost I am a husband, a father, a son, and a brother. It is up to us as individuals to step up when we feel it is necessary to do so. And now is the time to do so.
The COVID era has been very trying for us all. Everyone has had to make the necessary adjustments to our lives to accommodate new problems related to the pandemic. However, the ruling Saskatchewan Party under Premier Scott Moe has constantly made major decisions about the direction the province will take in handling COVID-19 that go against the advice of experts, front line workers, and businesses. Without any indication of how or why these decisions are being made and without an ounce of transparency. This has left many of us feeling increasingly powerless, fearful of the present, and fearful of the future. Good governance requires accountability of actions and transparency in decisions made.
Also, reviews are how institutions become more efficient and better. Rejecting these is irresponsible and bad governance. On March 16th, the province of BC launched an independent review and public consultation on its operational response to COVID-19, to better inform preparations and response to future emergencies. It is not an unreasonable request to petition our government here in Saskatchewan to do the same.
Jeff, his wife Kristin, and their five children are proud Saskatchewan residents.
Together, we can create a progressive province where our family and ALL others can do their best, be their best and contribute their best.
Yes, there is a long road ahead. But a journey always begins with that first step. Take it now and we’ll walk together.