Premier Scott Moe will not be calling byelections to replace two departing MLAs, citing a desire to be “prudent” with taxpayer dollars while defending their decision to accept severance payments.Former MLAs Corey Tochor of Saskatoon Eastview and Warren Steinley of Regina Walsh Acres both announced they were resigning their seats on Wednesday, the official start of a federal campaign where both are running for the Conservatives.Moe is not required to call byelections for their seats because 40 months have elapsed since the last provincial election. The opposition NDP has called that a “loophole” that will leave constituents without representation for about 14 months. But Moe disagreed, pointing to the high cost of byelections.“We won’t be calling a byelection,” he said. “First of all, it would be about $700,000 to call a byelection. The legislation that was put in place under the previous administration clearly states that one should not be called at this point in time.”He said neighbouring MLAs will pick up the slack left by Steinley and Tochor “to ensure the people of these constituencies in our two largest centres will be well served.”Story continues belowThis advertisement has not loaded yet,but your article continues below.Both became eligible to receive several months worth of transitional allowance upon resignation, according to rules set by both parties in the legislature. The former MLAs have said they will follow “past precedent,” with Steinley’s office clarifying that means he will accept the payment.But neither Moe nor Speaker Mark Docherty could immediately cite any cases that closely paralleled the case of the two departing MLAs, who could theoretically receive provincial payments while serving in federal office. The rules do not explicitly provide any exception for that eventuality.Neither Steinley nor Tochor responded to inquiries about what they will do with the money if elected as MPs.Asked whether he would recommend refusal, Moe noted that the severance packages “are not large” and suggested they’re meant to cushion MLAs from the uncertainty of public office.“They are put in place understanding that the elected members careers are generally not lifelong careers,” he said.He gave no signal that he’s willing to review the rules that provide for the payments.“It would be a caucus discussion and ultimately into a discussion with all parties in the house,” he said. “But we have not had it to this point in time and are not intending to have it to my knowledge.”Steinley has defended his decision to resign and campaign for federal office in similar terms to those used by Moe, noting that other Regina MLAs can fill his shoes in the 14 months before the next general election.He’s told voters he sees important tasks ahead in Ottawa. He also noted that it’s not up to him to decide whether or not byelections are called.The federal election will take place on Oct. 21. Steinley is running in Regina—Lewvan, while Tochor is seeking to represent Saskatoon—University in the House of Commons.awhite-crummey@posmedia.com

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