A look at Scott Moe, leader of the Saskatchewan Party:
Born: July 31, 1973, in Prince Albert, Sask.
Early years: Raised as the oldest in a family of five on a grain farm near Shellbrook, Sask. His mother was a teacher and his father farmed and owned school buses. Moe played sports growing up, including competitive hockey.
Education: Graduated from the University of Saskatchewan in 1997 with a bachelor of science in agriculture.
Before politics: Sold farm equipment, was in the service station business and co-owned a pharmacy in Shellbrook with his wife.
Political record: Was first elected as the Saskatchewan Party member for Rosthern-Shellbrook in 2011, then again in 2016. In 2018, moved into the premier’s office after winning the leadership contest to replace retiring premier Brad Wall. Well-known for sparring with federal government over carbon pricing and provincial autonomy.
Family: Married to his high school sweetheart, Krista. They have two adult children, Carter and Taryn.
Quote: “You dig deep as to why and you also dig deep as to how can I use this — in my case, a personal tragedy — to make a difference as you move forward,” Moe in 2019 about killing a woman in a car crash in 1997.
‘Farm kid with a wicked slapshot:’ Scott Moe wins first mandate as premier
Some leaders have a reputation for political strategy, others for charisma.
Scott Moe may be best known for being ordinary.
Moe has been in elected politics for less than a decade and only stepped into the spotlight a couple of years ago, when he replaced outgoing Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall.
Moe was raised as the oldest of five children in a community-minded farm family. As an adult, he worked selling farm equipment and owned gas stations and a pharmacy. Moe fishes, snowmobiles and golfs.
As unlikely as his political career rise may seem, the 47-year-old’s appeal lies in his roots, which he pitched to voters who re-elected his party on Monday.
Moe was raised near Shellbrook, a town of 1,400, about 40 kilometres north of Saskatoon.
“Scott would have been a tough farm kid with a wicked slapshot,” says Greg Otterson, who grew up with him.
Moe was also “a friend to everyone.” Once while golfing, Otterson dislocated his shoulder. It was Moe who took him to hospital.
“Even though I wasn’t in his inner circle of close friends, I didn’t consider myself to really be outside of it. He wasn’t that kind of person.”
Another time, Otterson says, he and Moe were on vacation in Maui at the same time.
“Scott — he looked just like a typical Saskatchewan farmer … had the big farmer tan going on and, I remember, like deathly afraid of sharks.”
Iain Hughes grew up best friends with Moe. They played ball together and later double-A midget hockey.
Moe was a down-to-earth kid who helped his dad on the farm, while his mom worked as a teacher, Hughes says. The summer after finishing high school, in 1991, Moe and Hughes headed to Yellowknife on their first adventure away from home and landed jobs building houses.
By Christmas, homesick for his high-school sweetheart, Krista, Moe had returned.
The couple married and attended the University of Saskatchewan together. Moe studied agriculture; she studied pharmacy. Two kids came along: a son Carter, and a daughter, Taryn.
“It was pretty rough going at the start, when they had an infant child and both of them in university … plus trying to farm a little bit on the side,” recalls Hughes.
By 30, Moe had gone bankrupt, been convicted of impaired driving and ticketed in a fatal collision in 1997.
During the campaign, he visibly struggled when the sons of the woman killed in the crash came forward for the first time.
Jo-Anne Balog died taking her 18-year-old son to a medical appointment. Moe, driving his truck along a gravel road that May morning, didn’t stop at a marked highway intersection and smashed into her vehicle.
He was fined $220 for driving without due care and attention.
“I know words just are not — words are just not — I’m just not able to express in words how truly sorry I am,” Moe said, promising he would personally apologize to Balog’s sons post-election.
He also defended a decision not to tell the public until the campaign about a second impaired driving charge that was stayed in 1996 but was about to be made public.
“This is not who I am. This is part of who I was.”
Moe says his interest in politics began while living in Vermilion, Alta, where he was selling farm equipment in the days of former Alberta premier Ralph Klein.
“If you look at where Saskatchewan was in 2000, where Alberta was in 2000, there was a marked difference,” Moe says. “I started to realize what impact politics had on the growth of communities.”
After moving back to Saskatchewan in 2003, Moe became a member of the Saskatchewan Party.
He was first elected to represent Rosthern-Shellbrook in 2011 and won again in 2016. Two years later, after Wall announced he was retiring from politics, Moe won the party’s leadership race and moved into the premier’s office.
Moe had gone into the race with an overwhelming backing from caucus and won on a fifth and final ballot.
He has not shied away from his somewhat unexpected journey. In one of Moe’s first public speeches, he joked about a text he received from a brother-in-law.
”The text went something like this: ‘Scott, are you the premier of Saskatchewan? WTF?”
Moe has common sense and is good with people, says Hughes. “He was just a normal guy” who went into politics.
Hughes has younger kids and says Moe tells him how important it is to be around while they’re growing up.
During the summer, as the government was months into dealing with the COVID-19 crisis, they spent a day on the water fishing in northern Saskatchewan with another childhood buddy.
Hughes says when it was over, Moe let him know what the day meant to him.
“It’s just really important to him, when he gets maybe one day … where he can just actually sort of unwind and we can talk about old times.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 26 2020.
Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press