Boring Sask Politics

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Article: John Murney – Contributor

Saskatchewan had quite a year politically in 2013 – quite boring, that is. When this year is measured up against all others in our province’s past, this one will be largely unremarkable. Don’t get me wrong, reaching the milestone of 1.1-million people and leading Canada with Alberta in economic growth makes me very proud to be from Saskatchewan. But, this type of news makes for boring politics.

Maybe in a year from now I’ll be eating crow, but it seems unlikely that Saskatchewan politics will be as dull in 2014 as it was this year.

Will the NDP Opposition finally get their act together and start to provide a real Opposition to this Government? We should not buy the idea that the NDP are hampered in opposing the government because they only have 9 MLAs. 30 years ago, the NDP were also in opposition in this province, with 8 MLAs, and that caucus provided a very spirited opposition to the Devine Government. In fact, that small group of MLAs was so well organized that they almost returned to power in the 1986 provincial election. Cam Broten and his team need to get their act together in 2014, or speculation about their demise will begin to grow dramatically.

The issues of affordable housing and health care delivery began to simmer across the province in 2013. Therefore, it seems likely that these issues could come to a full rolling boil next year. The lack of affordable housing in Regina and the other major cities, and the subsequent spike in homelessness-related issues dominate urban political chatter these days. The abortive move to close overnight emergency services at the Pasqua Hospital grabbed the attention of a lot of folks, and chatter about it has not subsided yet.

There should also be room for the unexpected in Saskatchewan Politics next year. So far in this province, we have gone 2-plus years since the last provincial election without a single MLA resigning and creating the need for a by-election. This is unprecedented in Saskatchewan politics and should be made note of. In all terms of government in Saskatchewan going back to 1905, there has always been at least one by-election between general elections. But, so far, there have been no indications that any MLAs on either side of the house plan to quit in the foreseeable future. And, with each passing month that there is not a vacancy in the Saskatchewan Legislature, the odds of there being a provincial by-election before the next provincial election diminishes greatly.

But, the fact that not a single Sask Party MLA has quit yet in spite of these circumstances strongly suggests that someone from behind the scenes exerts a great deal of power over the government MLAs. It reminds me of the writings of Herodotus of Halicarnassus. Herodotus wrote about the Egyptians, the Persians and the Babylonians, and the walls that their kings used to live behind. Herodotus was fascinated by the inner walls of these cities, where the kings maintained their power and where it was rumoured gods would come down from the sky and sleep on couches. It may be that the inner walls of the Saskatchewan Legislature have a similar story to share.

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