It’s not like we’re ground zero for all the nutjobs out there who offer us the scoop on some big news story they’ve somehow become privy to. But it does happen occasionally and some of the “leads” we get from aspiring Deep Throats are doozies. Still, we can’t automatically dismiss them either because sometimes…
I don’t know if this is one of those times, but the other day we got an e-mail with an attached photo showing a group of people at a local steakhouse. The sender recounted how they’d been out for dinner last weekend and ended up next to a table of Conservative and Sask. Party powerbrokers. The blurred photo they took with their smart phone was surreptitious But the snippets of conversation they overheard were just part of the normal restaurant environment. So it’s not like they were eavesdropping when they heard the group, fueled by their disdain with the Wall government’s centrist stance on most issues, discussing the idea of establishing a rival conservative party in Saskatchewan a là Wildrose in Alberta.
I know, it’s whack–right? Barring a huge scandal, the Sask. Party are pretty much a lock for a third term in 2015. I’m no political historian, but I don’t think that’s happened since the CCF/NDP were first elected in 1944. Why would hardcore right-wingers want to jeopardize that historic accomplishment, which would really allow them to put their stamp on Saskatchewan, by fragmenting the conservative vote?
Still, for “red meat” conservatives, what exactly has the Sask. Party accomplished in its five plus years of power? They shut down SCN and nuked the film industry, true. They’ve also had a few tussles with labour but keep butting up against the Constitution in restricting labour rights. And lately they’ve talked about privatizing some Crowns. But right now that’s all it is, talk. Otherwise, it’s been pretty thin gruel.
The last straw may have been finance minister Ken Krawetz’s 2013-14 budget which set out a “Balanced Growth” agenda, included a 3.1 per cent spending increase, and was subtitled: More Support For Vulnerable People, Students and Infrastructure. More money for infrastructure and education, especially of the P3 variety and focused job-training, is something hardliners presumably support. But “vulnerable people”?
“WTF?”, I can imagine them texting to friends and colleagues with a link to Murray Mandryk’s post-budget commentary which was headlined “Government Rediscovers A Heart In This Budget”.
Federally, hardliners have a potent outlet for their ideology in the Harper Conservatives, which hold 13 of 14 Saskatchewan seats. But if electoral boundaries change before the next election as has been proposed to create three urban ridings in Saskatoon and two urban and one urban/rural hybrid in Regina some of that influence could wane. If that happens, well… spats have occurred before between centre and right-wing factions of the Saskatchewan conservative movement — remember the dust-up Premier Wall and Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar MP Kelly Block had last November over medical care for a refugee suffering from cancer?
So if hardliners get thwarted a bit federally, they could rebel and strike out on their own provincially as the Wildrosers did. Barely four years old, the Wildrose Party–under charismatic leader Danielle Smith–came tantalizingly close to claiming power in last April’s Alberta election before the bozo factor caught up with them and they plummeted in the polls. But they remain a formidable force.
With Saskatchewan on a similar trajectory as Alberta as far as resource exploitation and growing clout in Canada goes could, say, a Tigerlily Party take root in Saskatchewan? Okay, I know technically Saskatchewan’s floral symbol is the Western Red Lily. But it’s synonymous with communism so no self-respecting right-wing party would ever adopt the colour/word Red.
Besides, “Tigerlily Party” has a fiery kick to it. Western Red Lily Party… not so much.
We’ll investigate the rumour in the coming days and let you know what we turn up.