Although it’s less than five years, there’s something about today’s Saskatchewan that makes it feels that it’s eons since the provincial NDP ran the province.
Perhaps it’s the fact that the Saskatchewan Party, notwithstanding some slippage this past legislative session on adding MLAs and a few other issues, is still riding high under the charismatic leadership of Premier Brad Wall. And Wall’s success can be directly attributed to the success of the province’s oil-driven economy. Whatever the foibles of the Sask. Party government right now, there is little doubt that it’s free-enterprise philosophy is more in tune with what’s making the province work right now.
Whatever the case, it does seem like a lot longer than five years ago that former premier Lorne Calvert’s NDP ruled the province.
That said, it’s actually been even longer that Saskatchewan has had any federal representation from Saskatchewan, an even more amazing reality when you consider that the NDP once dominated the federal scene in Saskatchewan nearly ass much as the provincial NDP dominated the Saskatchewan legislature.
Most of will recall growing up in a time when the majority of MPs Saskatchewan sent to Ottawa were either CCF or NDP. In 1988, the province sent 10 of a possible 14 MPs to Ottawa from this province. The numbers did dwindle to less than half a dozen in the 1990s and early 2000s, but that was still a relatively health presence.
Then along came the distribution prior to the 2004 election in which there were no longer any pure city ridings, something that greatly reduced NDP prospects. (Ironically, though, it was actually NDP MPs who most complained about representing rural ridings that were geographically too large.)
Nevertheless, since that 2004 election, the Saskatchewan NDP has been shut out in four consecutive federal elections now. One has to start to think that the issue goes beyond unfavourable electoral boundaries. And given the recent pronouncements of new federal NDP leader Thomas Mulcair, it’s rather evident the federal NDP is badly out-of-touch with Saskatchewan.
In an interview with CBC Radio recently, Mulcair expressed his distain for Western Canadian prosperity ... or at least the way oil has created a high dollar that the NDP leader says is now responsible for destroying the manufacturing industry in Eastern Canada.
“It’s by definition the ‘Dutch disease,’” Mulcair said in reference to the Netherlands economy of the 1960s that saw a North Sea natural gas push their currency higher and allegedly hurt that country’s manufacturing sector.
Mulcair went on to suggest that while an “artificially high dollar” might be “fine if you’re going to Walt Disney World” it’s “not so good if you want to sell your manufactured product because the American clients, most of the time, can no longer afford to buy it.”
Well, actually a high Canadian dollar tends to hurt the Western oil and gas sector or well. And then there’s the reality that much of the dollar issue is out of our control anyway because it’s driven by U.S. monetary policy that’s doing a better job of keeping their dollar artificially low.
But setting aside all this, plus the fact that eastern U.S. is manufacturing is struggling as badly as eastern Canadian manufacturing, what’s most irksome is how little respect or appreciate someone striving to be Prime Minister has for the West and its economy.
As Premier Brad Wall said on his Twitter account: “If Thomas Mulcair thinks a strong resource sector is a ‘disease,’ what is his ‘cure’? Higher resource taxes?”
The problem here isn’t just that the federal NDP doesn’t get the West. Given Mulcair’s view, it would seem the NDP has abandoned the West.
Is it any wonder that Saskatchewan hasn’t elected an NDP MP in more than a decade?