Buffalo biggest problem on Moe’s horizon

The 2020 election went about as well for the Saskatchewan Party as it possible could.

When you accomplish the rare feat of winning four consecutive majorities — the fourth by a whopping 48-13 margin — you have done something historic.

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The last NDP government also had four straight majorities, but its 1999 government was a coalition propped up by two Liberals. (As an aside, these were the last Liberal MLAs elected in Saskatchewan. The Liberals only ran three candidates in the 2020 election, who garnered slightly more than 300 votes.)

When it comes to securing four-in-a-row, unaided majority governments, this is the first time in Saskatchewan since Tommy Douglas’ Co-operative Commonwealth Federation government from1944 to 1963. That was a 19-year run. By the time of the next scheduled set-date election in 2024, the Sask. Party will have governed for 17 straight years — also the longest run of since Douglas.

However, Monday night’s election was historic in national terms, as well. It was the third consecutive election in which the Sask. Party cracked the 60 per cent barrier when it comes to the overall popular vote. The only other dynasty to do that was Joe Smallwood’s Liberals in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Finally, this is the sixth consecutive general election for the Sask. Party since it was founded in 1997.

The Saskatchewan Party has truly lived up to its name, clearly supplanting the NDP for the title of  “Saskatchewan’s natural governing party.”

Given the historic magnitude of the Sask. Party win, it’s hard to imagine how this 2020 election could have gone much better for Premier Scott Moe.

At one point, it even looked the Sask. Party had knocked off NDP Ryan Meili in his Saskatoon Meewasin seat. Meili was able to win his seat after mail-in ballots.

Some would argue that having Meili in the legislature will create added dissention within the ranks of the NDP that seems uncertain as to where it should go.

As it stands right now, the NDP is a party that represents little more than north and inner city ridings in the two major cities.

The Sask. Party government now faces practical problems. Moe promised $849 million in new spending over the next four years in a plan calling for billion-dollar annual deficits that will add to the current $24-billion public debt. The pandemic is bound to have ongoing effects on a recovering economy.

But politically speaking, the Sask. Party seems as well positioned in its fourth term, with one possible new, glaring exception of the rise of the Buffalo Party in rural seats that were again all won by the Sask. Party.

While a reflection of public mood, this is a political problem of Moe’s own making.

Surprisingly, the Buffalo Party finished third in the popular vote despite only running 17 candidates. The former Wexit party that touts the notion of taking Saskatchewan out of the Canadian confederation even managed to finish second in four ridings, including Cannington.

Sure, Buffalo candidates finished well back of the Sask. Party in its traditionally safe rural seats and are not exactly a threat to power.

And throughout our history, we have seen other separatist partiess like the Unionest, the Western Canada Concept and the Independence Party, and none of them have every mounted to anything.

But noisy Buffaloes demand attention. They will cause Moe to further attack Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the federal Liberals. And while most here clearly despise the Trudeau Liberals, Moe needs better co-operation with the federal government to get through this pandemic.

In an otherwise amazing election night, Moe has found at least one new problem.

© Copyright Carlyle Observer

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