It was a Speech from the Throne like no other at the Saskatchewan Legislature Wednesday afternoon.
Not so much for what was in the speech but for the unprecedented security that surrounded it because of an armed attack on Parliament Hill in Ottawa earlier in the day.
All ceremonial activities were moved indoors, police swept the building and even the Regina police swat team was called in.
Changes included the cancellation of the 21-gun salute and the fly past by 15-Wing Moose Jaw.
There are normally some seats for general members of the public in the legislature for the Throne Speech but these were removed and the event became invitation only.
Premier Brad Wall says it was the government’s decision to go ahead with the ceremony, providing it could be done safely.
He notes there is a large military presence as well as a large number of foreign diplomats here for the Throne Speech.
Wall says ensuring everyone’s safety was his primary concern and security measures at the legislative building are under review.
“Our balance we’ll always want to strike is access to this building that does not belong to the politicians, it belongs to the people of Saskatchewan but also to the security of all those who work here and those who visit here,” he says. “So, there may be changes.”
The Throne Speech focuses on the economy and the theme is “Keeping Saskatchewan Strong.”
To that end, the speech includes a number of measures and tax breaks.
Premier Wall says among the items focused on growing the economy is the reintroduction of interest rate subsides to help municipalities with infrastructure costs.
He says the program will also be expanded to include some First Nations.
Right now the only First Nation that qualifies is Whitecap Dakota.
The speech mentions the development of a poverty reduction strategy; something the Premier says is a “work in progress.”
This is one of the few items in the Throne Speech welcomed by the NDP opposition.
NDP Leader Cam Broten says the party has been pushing for a poverty reduction strategy for years.
“I am pleased to see there is now a flip-flop on the need for a comprehensive anti-poverty strategy,” he says. “We’ve been calling for that for ages. We’ll have to see what the actual plan is to see whether or not it will do the job.”
The Throne Speech also says the government will not spend another dollar building liquor stores.
This fall, it will gather public feedback on the future of liquor retailing in the province.
Wall says while the throne speech makes no mention of private MRIs in the province, he expects further debate in the legislature on the issue.
Other measures in the Throne Speech include a tax break for manufacturers who create new corporate and head office jobs in the province, legislation to help better protect the victims of domestic violence and increases in the number of adult basic education and apprenticeship training seats.