The Way I See It: Political Landscape of Saskatchewan
Last night was the leaders debate for the upcoming Saskatchewan provincial election. It was quite lackluster. So much so, that I found myself longing for the old days with the political landscape in this province.
At present, we have two large political factions. On the right, there is the Sask Party, made up of old members of the Progressive Conservative Party and the Saskatchewan Liberal Party. Center Left is the New Democratic Party. Then, there are several smaller factions, which include The Saskatchewan Liberal Party, who I understand this election are focusing all of their efforts in winning just one seat in the Battlefords. The other smaller party of note is the Saskatchewan Green Party, which is currently on the same road as the old CCF was at one time. They’re hoping to gain five seats in this election, but we’ll have to see. Current predictions show that there most likely won’t be any change in the status quo.
But last night, I got thinking how the political landscape in this province would be markedly different had one event not happened. More than twenty years ago, things started that made this province very interesting. Linda Haverstock was elected as leader of the provincial Liberal party, Roy Romanow had taken over as leader of the NDP, and the PC Party looked to be on it’s last legs.
The provincial election of 1991 set the stage for what was to come over the next ten years. Many of the members of the Grant Devine Government of the 1980′s were indicted on charges of fraud and embezzlement. Romanow became what was jokingly known as the best Liberal premier Saskatchewan had in a long time. And Haverstock and her Liberals were gaining major steam, mostly due to the charismatic and intelligent nature of Haverstock herself.
Then something happened. The Saskatchewan Liberal Party called for a vote of confidence in Haverstock. In a slim vote, Haverstock took the confidence 51% to 49, but she still stepped down as leader. To make matters worse, the party stripped her of her membership. All of this is still mind boggling, considering the fact that many in the province saw Haverstock as a natural leader. There were predictions that she was on track to become the next premier of the province, and the first woman to do so.
After she was stripped of her membership, a few Liberal MLAs and the remaining PC MLAs joined forces to form the Sask Party. Just think, if that had never happened, if Haverstock never had a vote of confidence forced on her, what would have happened. There’s all kinds of speculation, and it’s my own right to speculate all I want, so here goes.
Haverstock and her Liberals would have won the provincial election of the late 1990s in Saskatchewan, which would have ushered in the first Liberal government since the 1960s, and the first woman to sit as premier of Saskatchewan. Haverstock would have been compared to Romanow quite a bit, because while she acted as a continuous measure of conscious for the ruling NDP while she was opposition leader, she also had some of the same values. She knew of the importance of the province’s crown corporations, knew of the importance of the unions, but was also not willing to give in to what might be considered frivolous demands. Had Haverstock not been stripped of membership, the Sask Party never would have existed, and instead the PC Party would be struggling to rebuild with the Liberal Party holding three straight governments. That’s right, Haverstock would have lead the Saskatchewan Liberal Party to three straight provincial governments, with the last two being slim majorities. Romanow still would have retired, Calvert still would have become leader of the NDP, but I think it would have been doubtful if Dwain Lingenfelter would have taken another swing at politics like he has currently.
One event. Just one, small event, would have completely changed things in this province. Instead, we are now forced to sit through two leaders who have done an amazing job of name calling, and kept a 2011 election campaign completely under the radar with lackluster promises and less than stellar rhetoric.
- Wall, Lingenfelter get their digs in (cbc.ca)
- Textbook greeting inappropriate, NDP says (cbc.ca)
- Greens, NDP, Sask. Party field full slates (cbc.ca)
- Experts say Saskatchewan election two-party race (ctv.ca)
- Mulcair says he’s no right-wing, Quebec nationalist (ctv.ca)