Alberta Politics
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe, with his great big truck (Photo: Saskatchewan Party).

What was Saskatchewan’s media doing when it wasn’t reporting on Scott Moe’s driving record?

Posted on October 09, 2020, 1:03 am
7 mins

Seriously, what was the media in Saskatchewan doing when it wasn’t investigating Scott Moe’s history of drunk and, on one occasion, deadly driving?

Wednesday morning, the province’s Saskatchewan Party premier got up on his hind legs at a campaign event and “spoke to an impaired driving charge he faced following an incident in 1994,” as CTV News Regina carefully described it.

The Saskatchewan Legislature in Regina, home of the weakest campaign finance laws in Canada (Photo: Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan).

The details have never been publicly revealed, the premier told reporters, sounding as though he thought this was entirely reasonable, because prosecutors entered a stay of proceedings in the case two years after the charge was laid in 1994. The same thing happened to the charge of leaving the scene of an accident laid by the RCMP officer who attended the fender bender in the parking lot of the Co-op store in Mr. Moe’s hometown, Shellbrook, Sask., 45 kilometres west of Prince Albert.

“Because the charges were withdrawn, the incident has not been part of my public disclosure, but I am doing so now as I expect to be asked at some point in time, in particular in the environment and the atmosphere that we are operating in here today,” the premier said, making it sound as if he thought the real problem was the media, and maybe the NDP campaigning against him in the leadup to the Oct. 26 provincial election, not his driving record.

Mr. Moe said he’d had a drink that day, but he wasn’t drunk. “Those charges were later withdrawn because I was not impaired and did not leave the scene,” he said.

The record would appear not to be quite that cut and dried. The information prepared by the Mountie certainly seemed clear enough, stating “his ability to operate a motor vehicle was impaired by alcohol or a drug,” and he failed “to stop his vehicle and give his name and address contrary to Section 252(1) of the Criminal Code.”

And according to Press Progress, which broke the story Wednesday morning, Mr. Moe changed legal counsel a couple of times before the courts finally got around to dealing with the 1994 charges and the prosecutor decided the case wouldn’t fly. Court records suggested Mr. Moe’s lawyer in 1995 was not prepared to waive the right to argue the delay violated Mr. Moe’s constitutional rights.

Mr. Moe was also only 20 when this happened, he was also careful to tell the reporters. “I made some poor choices and I have learned from those mistakes,” he insisted.

Of course, none of this would be of interest but for a couple of important factors beyond the mere fact Mr. Moe is the conservative premier of Saskatchewan.

For one thing, the province’s media were already aware of a similar incident two years earlier in 1992, after impaired driving charges laid against the 18-year-old Mr. Moe that year became an issue during the 2016 provincial election campaign, while the Saskatchewan Party was still led by Brad Wall.

But, hey, as the party said at the time, “a person makes a mistake, pays the price, acknowledges their mistake and makes the changes necessary in their life to ensure it never happens again.”

Then, in 2017, when Mr. Moe was campaigning to become Sask Party leader, he admitted he had also been involved in a horrific crash in 1997 near his home town that took the life of a 39-year-old woman.

Joanne Balog’s sons, Daniel Bulmer and Steve Balog, said Tuesday they never knew it was Saskatchewan’s future premier who was behind the wheel of the car that killed their mother until they read it in a social media post on a site associated with the former Saskatchewan Wexit Party.

The 1994 charges against Mr. Moe clearly never would have surfaced were it not for Wednesday’s report in Press Progress, the progressive news organization associated with the Ottawa-based Broadbent Institute.

The 1997 fatality — long after Mr. Moe had supposedly made the changes necessary to ensure it never happened again — resulted only in charges of driving without due care and attention.

So Saskatchewan’s media has had at least since 2016, when the 1992 charge surfaced, to ask the question of whether there was more to the story. It’s hard to understand why they didn’t look a little harder after the 2017 revelation.

Maybe they were too busy not covering how much money the Alberta oilpatch funnels to Sask Party coffers, another story on which Press Progress had to take the lead. There’s practically a pipeline from Calgary to Regina, and Saskatchewan is notorious for having the weakest campaign finance laws in Canada.

It sure sounds as if someone knew something.

Did that someone just get sick of waiting for local media to report a story lots of folks knew about?

Even if that’s not the case, didn’t anyone wonder if it might be worth picking up the phone and making some calls to see if something similar had happened?

Or is this kind of thing just not that big a deal in certain circles in a province where almost 10 per cent of all of the ruling party’s candidates have been convicted of drunk driving?

Maybe it’s about time for some intrepid Saskatchewan reporter to ask the premier straight up if there are any more drunk driving cases or serious crashes in his history that he hasn’t mentioned for one reason or another.

7 Comments to: What was Saskatchewan’s media doing when it wasn’t reporting on Scott Moe’s driving record?

  1. Dave

    October 9th, 2020

    Mr. Moe sure does seem to have a horrible driving history and it is surprising this all did not come to light until now.

    I don’t know a lot about Sask politics, but it has seemed since the beginning that Mr. Moe was not quite the political powerhouse Mr. Wall was. Therefore, it was surprising to me that Mr. Moe has done so well in the polls since he became Premier until now.

    Perhaps Moe’s more low key style really resonated with voters, but I have also wondered for a while if voter fatigue might eventually set in with the Sask Party that has been power for quite a long time now. Saskatchewan does not have quite the history of being a one party state or having as long governing parties that we in Alberta do.

    Of course, Mr. Moe’s incidents happened quite a long time ago. Perhaps voters might be forgiving because of this. However, they may also start to see Mr. Moe in a different light and there is certainly going to be more scrutiny of his past over the next few weeks.

    It initially looked like Mr. Moe was cruising to an easy victory, but he has now hit some serious bumps along the way, so that initial assumption is not as certain now.

    Reply
  2. ronmac

    October 9th, 2020

    Sounds like the Sask Party is following in the footsteps of the Ralph Klein school of political discourse. Down your shooters first and ask questions later.

    On the other hand why is everybody is reaching back 30 years to dig up adolescent dirt on opponents during political campaigns? It’s become a recent trend in Canadian politics. From Justin’s blackface days to Jason Kenney’s campus anti-gay activism back in the 1980’s. It seemed like the Alberta NDP spent more running against the teenage Jason Kenney in the 2017 election rather than focusing on the issues of the here and now.

    Reply
  3. Hammer

    October 9th, 2020

    I will leave the serious comments on driving to someone . What I would like to see explored more of is how the Calgary oil patch funnels funds to the party next door. I do realize that at least a couple of Calgary heavy weights in the patch come from Saskatchewan and have a vested interest in assuring a pro-business, pro oil patch reigns supreme. Though I would like to follow the money trail on this one. This kind of reminds me of the shenanigans that JK used to poach power in Alberta. It is always ” follow the money”.

    Reply
  4. Abs

    October 9th, 2020

    All I could think of when I read this is Chappaquiddick. This is the kind of thing that ends political careers, or should, but not in Saskatchewan where the members of the 10 percent club at the legislature have similar stories of their own.

    Reply
  5. Dave in Sask

    October 9th, 2020

    This is as much about the Leader Post and Star Phoenix not reporting or editorializing this story as it is about Moe not disclosing the charges.

    Oh well since Postmedia owns these papers and is known as the chief cheer leaders of the conservative/Sask Partyregime and are cheering on oil politics even when oil production is a money losing venture what else do you expect. Their bias shows how little they practise journalism.

    Reply
  6. Anonymous

    October 10th, 2020

    Scott Moe was drinking and driving, and killed someone. He should not be the premier of Saskatchewan.

    Reply
  7. jerrymacgp

    October 10th, 2020

    I’m of two minds on this issue. Drunk driving is a serious offence with potentially fatal consequences to innocent travellers, but is not treated as such by either society or the criminal justice system; I’ve often said that if you want to commit a murder & get off easy, just have a few wobbly pops & run over your intended target with your car.

    However, I also feel people who have committed crimes but have fully paid their debt to society should be able to then participate fully in that society; this includes running for elected office. In fact, if the individual in question has remained clear of further criminal convictions for a sufficient period of time, they can apply for a “record suspension” — i.e. a pardon — and job discrimination against someone with a pardon is generally unlawful.

    It also appears that Mr Moe was not convicted of the 1994 charge, while your post does not clearly establish whether he was convicted in the 1992 case; in 1997 he was only charged under the province’s highway traffic act, not the Criminal Code. Now, I dislike Mr Moe & all he stands for, but I do not feel that even a Premier gives up his right to be (1) presumed innocent until proven guilty, and (2) to serve his time or pay the fine, as applicable, & then be discharged of his conviction once he does so and enough time has passed.

    So, I’m not sure it is fair to attack hm for this. Ditto most of the “10%” — that is, 6 of 61, including the Premier — of Sask Party candidates, only three of whom have convictions in this century.

    Reply

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