When you think about it, the Saskatchewan Party should be “Standing up for Saskatchewan”.
After all, the reason for their very existence is pretty much spelled out in their name.
Of course, the NDP have always taken umbrage with the fact that the conservative-based party chose to title itself after the province.
But this is a rather conservative province … or at least, it’s been more conservative than not.
Since the 20-year, post-Depression, post-Second-World War run of Tommy Douglas’s CCF — a different political party for a different era — ended in 1964, Saskatchewan has seen more days with non-NDP governments than with NDP governments.
And should current opinion polls showing the Sask. Party substantially ahead hold up until the 2020 vote, the Sask. Party will have a run of majority governments in Saskatchewan only exceeded by the Douglas government.
Moreover, it’s now been 30 years since Saskatchewan has sent a majority of NDP MPs to Ottawa. Since 2000, this province has only elected three NDP MPs.
Standing up for Saskatchewan and it’s rather conservative outlook should be a natural thing for Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe.
So one can only wonder why Moe feels the need to stand up for Saskatchewan alongside Ontario Premier Doug Ford.
Admittedly, one would normally expect the Saskatchewan Premier to seek out political allies — especially given that this province was standing alone in its opposition to the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s carbon tax for a considerable time.
As Moe pointed out after returning from his second press conference with Ford in two weeks, Ford was elected with a solid majority earlier this year to fight the carbon tax.
But there’s another of way of looking at this — especially in the context of what’s worked well for the Sask. Party in its long run in office and what it needs to avoid.
As you well know, the Sask. Party was formed as a coalition of Progressive Conservatives, Reformers and Liberals as a means of ending the vote split by parties in Saskatchewan right of the NDP. (Really, old Liberals and Progressive Conservatives splitting the vote in this province was the biggest reason why the runs of the CCF-NDP Douglas, Allan Blakeney and Roy Romanow-Lorne Calvert governments were extended as long as they were.)
As such, it would seem advisable for the Sask. Party to stay on that coalition track and focus on its successful Saskatchewan-first approach.
That clearly worked well in former premier Brad Wall’s 2010 national campaign that lobbied the Conservative government stop the BHP Billiton takeover of PotashCorp.
Certainly, one can argue that Moe is still doing the same thing in his “Standing up for Saskatchewan” campaign — the theme of the throne speech that was all about the carbon tax fight.
But if you are making a solid argument that this carbon tax fight is all about what’s good for Saskatchewan people and not just a political fight with Trudeau to the benefit Andrew Scheer’s federal Conservatives, there is a better way to go about than simply aligning yourself with Doug Ford.
While Ford did defeat what seemed to be a very bad Ontario Liberal government under Kathleen Wynne, he also came to office with substantial political baggage of his own.
And Moe’s strategist might also be a little wary of attaching the Sask. Party to a new Ontario government already running into its fair share of problems because of controversial policies.
Maybe it can be argued that Moe can’t fight this carbon tax alone.
But recruiting economists and even environmentalist (some of who say the carbon tax won’t work) would be more productive for Moe.
Opposition to the carbon tax has to be about what’s good for Saskatchewan — not what’s good for conservatives.
Murray Mandryk has been covering provincial politics for over 22 years.