By Ken MacDougall
I’ve often said in private that the followers of the Descendants of Devine Party, aka the Saskatchewan Party, are beginning to blindly follow their leaders and not observing political behaviour and assessing policy that can apply to today’s issues or even the distant future. It also bothers me that the sycophants falling for the nonsense that this group dishes up as policy are mostly of rural stock, a population to which this province owes a great favour in helping free our economy from the yoke-like grip of central Canadian and American farm implement manufacturers and fought for the creation of a medical delivery system that especially in the United States is viewed as a basic human right.
The DoD’s have over the past 11 years of provincial rule campaigned on the broken and false record of NDP governments in the 1990’s and early 2000’s having laid waste to the health and educational facilities of the province, allegedly closing 52 so-called “hospitals” that by today’s standards couldn’t even meet the criteria for medical facilities functioning as “acute care” locations, and 176 schools whose total population doesn’t even come close to the need for building an adequate number of high schools in Regina and Saskatoon that the Saskatchewan Party is dithering over at the moment to address school growth issues in urban centres. What’s going on here?
However constrained by rural voter turn-out for NDP candidates in the last three elections, part of the re-education process desperately needed in Saskatchewan is for the NDP to face up the public relations disaster they have created with rural voters with these two issues. This requires the party to painstakingly analyze – in PUBLIC – the “mistakes” they made (even though these closures weren’t economic errors) in communicating with voters as to “why” these choices had to be made at the time that they were acted upon, prior to the Saskatchewan Party taking office in 2007.
Such a public confessional is needed so as to sway these rural voters to consider future policy options proposed by the NDP, be it in providing rural Saskatchewan with complete and low cost high speed Internet service, better policing without stealing resources from our cities, diversifying agricultural practice by helping small farm operators turn their lands into market garden producers, or forcing the DoD Party to develop a farmer-friendly environmental policy before anyone gets any further carried away with the idea of using $4 billion in taxpayers’ monies just to have the already chemically polluted lands surrounding Lake Diefenbaker turned into another episode of Flint, MI, Love Canal or Quill Lakes land pollution nightmares that were such hot topics during the Saskatchewan Party leadership debate in Melfort.
In an October 21st, 2020 article carried by the CBC, former CEO of the Health Services Utilization and Research Commission Steven Lewis noted that health care restructuring undertaken by the Romanow government deeply upset rural voters, even though the implemented changes had absolutely NO impact upon their quality of care. Despite this sentiment, Lewis still considers the DoD “reminder” approach they keep playing around with during these campaigns as being nothing more than “cheap politics”.
You can’t really blame our rural voters for having this “We’ll never forgive you for taking these services away from us,” especially when you consider how schools and “hospitals” came to be built throughout rural Saskatchewan, starting in the late 1890’s. When refugees from Europe began fleeing their feudal existences, especially during the Bolshevik Revolution, the very idea of being able to finally settle in a place where their children could freely obtain an education and proper health care was merely a dream for them to consider. However, once settled, the local school’s existence took on even more while as the size of rural families continued to rise, the health and wellbeing of both the family and community became even more important items to preserve along the road to the community’s very survival.
It would have been wonderful in this last election if voters had had the chance to grill the two major parties over the decisions made on health care and education restructuring, particularly in 2016 when NDP hard-core supporters found themselves fighting the Election of 2011 and 2007 all over again. That, however, wasn’t going to happen. Thanks to the fact that the 2020 campaign was run during the height of the Covid-19 crisis, debate in a public forum was not possible, while in 2011, the former DoD leader, Brad Wall, simply told his candidates not to bother participating in any debate other than the leadership fiasco, and pretend they were out campaigning, as meeting voters face-to-face was more important than rehashing old arguments – which, of course, the DoD were doing by repeating the educational and health care lies of the 2007 campaign.
In the CBC interview, Premier Moe was asked “why” it was so important that his party’s candidates continue to lead the campaign off in such fashion. His answer, however, brings forward almost the same sense of frustration as we have just spent witnessing the four years of Donald Trump’s presidency – the excuse of getting the voter base “motivated”.
Moe, himself, spews his own propaganda, maintaining that “We [the Saskatchewan Party] have a record of growth, they [the NDP] have a record of decline” – this coming from a premier whose party has brought the provincial deficit back to the levels experienced during the Devine era, all while destroying the fiscal comfort basket left from the Lorne Calvert / Roy Romanow era, watching the markets for non-renewable resources shrink to nothingness, failing to diversify the provincial economic base, and failing in the entire eleven years of its existence to even come close to balancing the budget.
Oh, and don’t forget – doing nothing to reverse the decisions of the Romanow government as to how health care and educational reorganization.
Despite the Saskatchewan Party’s protestations as to how the NDP’s decisions from 1992 to 2007 are supposed to have gutted rural Saskatchewan’s educational offerings, what the DoD has done by its ongoing cuts to vital services is having a far more dangerous effect upon complete rural program offerings than ever before.
And that, folks, is why I believe rural Saskatchewan voters should be reconsidering their cult-like behaviours and re-examining just who did what to whom in 1991 through 2007 – and who’s really CAUSING the suffering as a result.
A small note of condolence and apology to the few remaining faithful members of the Liberal Party of Canada for ACCIDENTALLY using the scatological spelling of the Prime Minister’s last name in last week’s column. Honest, it was an “accident”…
As well, we note at this time that our province not only does not have enough doctors or teachers, but it also seems “forceful” salespersons are an endangered species, as apparently egina has been “forced” to hire a collection agency from Alberta to follow up payment on delinquent traffic fines and, presumably, land taxes. Sigh…