Since Steve Balog’s October 5, 2020, Facebook post revealed that until that point, he had been unaware that the man who was driving the truck that killed his mom was Scott Moe, the first question on people’s lips has been “How could he NOT know?”
Let’s answer, as best we can, this question. I’ve grilled poor Steve extensively, and the following is all based on what he told me, as well as a talk I had with his brother Dan.
In the 1990s, Jo-anne Balog was a single-mom living in Edmonton with her firstborn son. That would be Steve.
Jo-anne had a second son, Daniel, who she shared joint custody with his biological father. That is, until one day in the earlyish-Nineties when she and Steve made the routine drive across Edmonton to pick up her boy… and he was gone. Joanne was told it was a domestic matter and she’d need to fight it in family court.
Did she ever fight. Jo-Anne, living in relative poverty, spent the next few years tracking Daniel from one edge of Canada to another, finally filing for full custody of her son in a BC court.
In June 1997, week after she was killed, her then-husband and Steve’s stepdad, Randall (Randy) Silk, got a phone call saying Jo-Anne had indeed won full custody of Daniel.
My heart smashed when I heard that.
Jo-Anne had already missed out on so many years of her son’s young life, battling every step of the way to get him back. In the end she won, but never knew that victory, because it came after she lost her life. To his credit, Randy did take in Daniel, who was about 12 years old at the time, and brought him back to Crutwell, Saskatchewan.
Steve, who was 18, didn’t have a solid or healthy relationship with Randy. Steve clashed with Randy when he and Jo-Anne first got together, when they were all still living in Edmonton. After that Steve moved in with a buddy, spending the next couple of years couch-surfing Edmonton, before eventually reuniting with his mom and stepdad.
In fact, Steve had only been back living with Joanne and Randy in Edmonton for just a few weeks, in early 1996, when he was told that at the end of that month they were making the move to Saskatchewan.
After his mom was killed, Steve moved in with another friend in Crutwell. He stayed in contact with Randy and Daniel, who lived nearby in the same house where Steve had lived with Randy and Jo-Anne before she died.
Both Steve and Daniel (who I’ve also spoken to) asked their stepdad, repeatedly, to tell them who killed their mom. Both say that they felt he knew Scott Moe’s name, but was withholding it. They also said, independently of each other, that they thought Randy might have rationalized that he was withholding Moe’s name in case either of the teenaged-boys, in copious amounts of mental and physical pain, were tempted to retaliate against the Moe family.
I’ve no doubt their stepdad was trying to protect the boys, though people lose loved ones all the time at the hands of others and aren’t shielded from the names of those responsible. When the courts are involved, the name is public.
Randy, who passed away in 2015, may have had other reasons, which we might talk about later. I’m not sure how that is going to go. For now, we’ll leave it at that it seems he might have known, but for whatever reason, didn’t tell Steve or Dan.
About a year or so after Jo-Anne’s death, approximately October 1998, Randy moved to British Columbia with Daniel, and Steve lost contact with Randy, basically for good, and Daniel for some time. Steve moved to Prince Albert where he worked at a Robin’s Donuts to support and establish himself, totally alone.
He also went on to battle two decades of some of the worst imaginable PTSD symptoms, exacerbated, in my psychologically-uneducated opinion, by the lack of closure or justice for himself or his mom. Yet he still got married, had some kids, did some construction training and basically seems to have done everything he could to provide the stability for his family that he never had.
Let’s be clear – the onus should not have been on Jo-Anne’s sons to track down the information on the crash that robbed them of their mother, or to fight for justice for the loss of her life.
But could they have tracked it down?
For the kids reading this, allow me to explain the Nineties. Nobody was publishing or reading the news online. There was no Facebook for news algorithms to push, real or fake, in fact there were no social channels whatsoever. No smartphones with cameras to capture every frame.
Moe, in this CBC interview, is quite adamant that in 1997 the accident was “widely reported” by mainstream media.
I think that might be a bit of a stretch. We know there were two small stories in print, one in Shellbrook and one in Saskatoon. There may have been some information shared at the time on the local radio stations. There’s no video or television archives available – each outlet has looked, trust me.
Regardless of what happened in 1997, what’s left of those news stories today is negligible. A small story ran in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix the following day, May 30, 1997.
I’m sure one of you will prove me wrong, but I’ve tried Googling the Star Phoenix clip six ways from Sunday and I can’t find it. I have an (expensive) subscription to a newspaper archival service, which is where I found it, but even that service has only been available in recent years.
As for the Shellbrook Chronicle, they ran a story in their June 2, 1997 weekly edition.
Bottom of the front page, right next to the lady who won the yogurt bar competition.
You can Google that clip… if you know to search Jo-anne’s name as “Bolog”, instead of Balog. The Shellbrook paper also stated her age incorrectly at 39 (she was 37).
Steve Balog is not a newshound. He doesn’t follow it, like, at all. He’s never voted. He’s a blue-collar guy, a journeyman scaffolder, and literally has not one f*ck to give about politics. Facebook is not pushing news stories about literally anything onto his feed, nor were he or his friends particularly interested in the Sask Party’s 2017 leadership race.
In the above-linked CBC interview, Moe says that this crash was “public”, when he ran for office in 2011 and 2016. He seems to infer that it was even covered by media during those campaigns, but I’m not clear what he’s talking about. There’s no record of such, anyway.
Gormley apparently didn’t know about it when he ambushed Moe with it in 2017. Given he’s one of the handful of men who runs the Sask Party behind the scenes, it seems unlikely other media were talking about it, but he didn’t know about it. Plus, the fact he supposedly didn’t know was the premise of that brutal 2017 radio interview with Moe in the first place.
Media in Saskatchewan knew who Jo-Anne Balog was in 2017, after the story broke. Some of them have even reached out to Steve on Facebook since then, but only one tried messaging him without actually stating the purpose, so he ignored it.
Regardless of how the media has covered it, then or now, Steve Balog is a victim. Any RCMP investigation should have better addressed, or at least prove they tried to address (did this ever go to a Crown Prosecutor, for example?) the actions and circumstances that day that caused Steve’s injuries and as killed his mom.
There’s not a damn chance, in my opinion, that any investigation into that crash was conducted properly without, at the very least, Steve’s witness statement. It also appears that at least one other eyewitness to the scene, who we’ll discuss in my next post, has come forward with troubling information, which he or she claims was also not ever given to the RCMP.
Steve’s already feeling the judgment of those who think he should have known about Moe; I refuse to add to that negativity. I one hundred percent believe that it was a combination of circumstances, the decade, and rural Saskatchewan culture that allowed him to remain oblivious.
The bottom line is that “why” Steve Balog didn’t know about Moe really should not be up for debate.
The Shellbrook RCMP’s actions, however, should be.
What exactly did they investigate without Steve’s statement, which he is adamant that he never gave?
The day of the accident is the one time he spoke to the RCMP, who visited him at the hospital. Steve was drugged up for pain and processing the shock of losing his mom, horrifically, just hours before. Whatever information he did give them, which he says wasn’t much, would not have been nearly as reliable as what he would have given later in an interview, or even a statement.
“The RCMP did conduct an investigation and a re-enactment of the accident scene and they did determine that I crossed when it was unsafe and I didn’t stop fully at the highway,” said Moe in 2017 (again, CBC link is above)
How, exactly, did the RCMP conduct this “re-enactment” (I think he meant reconstruction), without any information from Steve Balog, who was the only other individual alive who was in one of the two vehicles involved?
Moe said he didn’t stop “fully”.
Balog’s version of what happens is just a bit different.
“I could see the vehicle coming on our left down the grid road,” Balog told Canadian Press report Stephanie Taylor.
“I could tell he was travelling at a fair speed and … all I could recall was that he’s going to stop. Like, there’s no way he’s not going to stop. Then he didn’t stop.”
So there you go – that’s why Steve Balog didn’t know Scott Moe killed his mom.
My question now, is did Scott Moe really think he could run for Premier and not have to face these (and more, that we will get into in the next post) painful questions?
If so, why?
I’m Tammy Robert. I’m a writer, but pay the bills consulting in media and public relations. Feel free to email me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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