Will orange crush or be crushed?
Article: Jason Chestney
I think the Saskatchewan Party, although powerful, is much weaker now than it was going into the last two elections. Not only have many of the so-called “Liberals” in the party announced their intentions not to run again, and have subsequently left cabinet, but the party has endured public-relations disasters. In particular, the government will be keen to ignore the contribution of provincial funding towards the making of the Corner Gas movie through Tourism Saskatchewan due to its poor decision to scrap the Film Industry Tax Credit. They will also be looking to ignore any criticism over the Lean Healthcare initiative and school funding through public-private partnerships. However, these are minor political issues and are not the government’s greatest problem.
The greatest problem, ironically, for the government, is their own rhetoric that they have used over the past seven years. Now that Saskatchewan is a “have” province, the underlying assumption is that being a “have” province ensures the population will have a brighter social and economic future. However, after seven years of the government spouting this rhetoric, many Saskatchewan people, especially youth such as myself just entering the workforce, have come to the opposite conclusion: that life in Saskatchewan is slowly becoming unaffordable, especially for students with record levels of loans. Their solution, taxing the residents who can barely afford to make ends meet, will have negative consequences. I think it is not a question of if the Saskatchewan Party will lose support in the fall sitting, but how much the support drop will be.
In contrast, I see the New Democratic Party as currently in the best position to gain from the government’s missteps and the best choice for those, such as myself, who are dissatisfied with the poor state of Saskatchewan during relatively good economic times. In their role as the opposition, the New Democrats have clearly shown that they are willing, as any opposition should, to make the most of any opportunity to make the government look bad. The Lean healthcare initiative and the Draude expense claim issue were public-relations successes for the party. Undoubtedly, they will look for further opportunities to focus on hot-button political issues. Far from the party that was soundly defeated in the 2011 election, the New Democratic Party is once again looking confident behind a younger leader, allowing them to use the rhetoric that they are a new generation with fresh ideas to offer.
The Party should also be looking to attack the Saskatchewan Party on the economic front and questioning the economic policy of a government that does its best to portray itself as a prudent fiscal manager of the Saskatchewan purse. At the same time, the New Democrats must portray themselves as the party that offers a brighter economic and social future than the current government. This will not be an easy challenge. The Saskatchewan Party is well financed and has shown a willingness to put out attack ads at a moment’s notice in an attempt to smear the opposition, most notably during the New Democratic leadership race. I believe for the New Democratic Party this fall sitting will be a further test of whether the population is still buying in to the Saskatchewan Party’s vision of social inequality and dog-eat-dog capitalism, or whether Saskatchewan’s population wants substantial social and economic change.
Full Disclosure: Jason says he “is a proud member of the Saskatchewan New Democratic Party.”