Politics - Sask. Party gov’t must rise to challenges

If you are continually losing battles in politics, maybe you are picking the wrong fights.

Or at least, maybe you are picking the wrong approach.

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Those of you who follow Saskatchewan politics will recognize how this has done in the NDP.

For decades, the NDP (and its forerunner, the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation) was the natural governing party in this province for three basic reasons.

First, coming out of the Great Depression and the Second World War, a destitute rural-based Saskatchewan was more inclined to accept its social-democratic philosophy bolstered by the co-operative movement.

Second, NDP governments did find ways to in later years adjust philosophies just enough to maintain a big tent that could accommodate the more free-enterprise-minded.

And, third, Liberals and the Progressive Conservatives in this province usually split the right-of-centre vote at election time.

Then along came the merger of the provincial Liberals and PCs in the late 1990s into the new Saskatchewan Party _ a home for business and rural people that long felt abandoned by the NDP.

Rather than change and evolve, the NDP has maintained its philosophies. In fact, under the leadership of current leader Ryan Meili, they seem even more firmly entrenched in a left-wing perspective rural and the much of the rest of Saskatchewan has long-ago abandoned.

This is a cautionary tale for any political movement … perhaps even the Saskatchewan Party.

Let us be clear that it’s unlikely the same fate awaits the Sask. Party juggernaut … at least, not any time soon.

However, there was a time not so very long ago when many assumed this could never happen to the NDP, either.

But the NDP slowly began losing some battles, even when it seemed to be on the right side of some issues like the fight over the National Energy Program.

That scenario might sound a bit familiar today as Premier Scott Moe’s government is also now losing battles with the federal government.

Of course, losing the carbon tax fight before the Supreme Court of Canada isn’t exactly hurting the Sask. Party government’s popularity. The tax is rightly seen for what it is — something unlikely to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It just hasn’t proven to be effective policy.

That said, the provincial government is now burdened with having to follow the law and do something. It seems ill-prepared to do so.

What Moe offered as an alternative — at-the-pump rebates similar modeled after what New Brunswick — was something the Sask. Party said was unworkable when it was introduced in that province more than a year ago.

What shouldn’t be lost in this conversation is that the reason Saskatchewan lost in the courts (it also lost at the local federal Court of Appeal level) is the courts’ recognition that manmade global warning is a reality.

To not offer something — to not compromise at least at little until legal forced to do — is to be too rigid.

And being too rigid in its beliefs and approach Is become a familiar Sask. Party government pattern.

Consider its slowness to react to COVID-19 — especially, the spread of new variants from Regina to other parts of the province.

This, too, may not be an issue of the Sask. Party government’s own making. But all governments are judged on how they do handle a crisis and that usually means having to be smart and nimble.

Being popular isn’t enough in the long run.

When the Grant Devine PCs came to power in 1982 with the biggest majority in the province’s history, many thought it would last forever.

But then it began losing fight …

In less than a decade, the PC government became massively unpopular because of its daily handling of issues and it’s rigid approach to things like privatization.

Governments can only afford to lose so many fights.

© Copyright Yorkton This Week

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