The 2024 Provincial Election Campaign has already begun – We just haven’t realized that as yet

Just over a month ago, the Regina Leader-Post reported on the tragedy behind Scott Moe’s 1997 conviction for driving “without due care and attention” and causing an accident that resulted in Jo-Anne Balog losing her life. Last week, they reported on the resignation of Sheila Whelan, former provincial court judge and NDP party President who this week formally resigned that position, giving no reason for her making this move in a very short letter announcing her intentions. The Leader-Post shows no compunction as to which of our major parties their willing to cover if there’s a “newsworthy” story there, and that’s their job. The problem here is, the Sask Party trolls who try to twist this latest story into being just another sign from God that the NDP, even after twelve years of being in exile and now under a new leader in Carla Beck STILL can’t agree upon what stance they should take in the upcoming 2024 election.

Ms. Whelan no doubt foresaw the inevitability of this story eventually being told, but it’s this “Gotcha” mentality endemic in Sask Party adherents that continues to irk my sense of fair play. Following the Leadership vote last year, various media “personalities” benignly concluded that the election of Carla Beck as NDP leader indicated that the party was moving the party towards a more “centrist” approach, while rejecting any idea that Kaitlyn Harvey’s stark “here are the facts” take on climate change and environmental destruction were being well received by party membership.

An Op-Ed piece I wrote for another paper attempted to highlight the extremely positive response given Kaitlyn Harvey’s “it’s about bloody well time we acted” truisms by all delegates, especially those under the age of 25. Equally impressive was the warmth given Ms. Beck’s daughter when she introduced her mother to the leadership’s attendees. This radically contrasts with the approach taken by the Sask Party that climate change and environmental destruction are topics of interest only to “left-leaning, woke propagandists” and “progressive extremists”. Our CHILDREN, on the other hand, already know just how dangerous this neglect will have on their futures, which is why Ms. Harvey and Carla Beck’s daughter could potentially become “star candidates” for the NDP in 2024. Their “draw” would not only assure the party of a resurgence in youth membership, but also give the party’s so-called “Old Guard” assurance that everyone with a membership card is finally on the same page and determined to defeat the SP.

What makes this story regarding Ms. Whelan’s resignation such a “Gotcha” piece, however, is that the “attack line” Sask Party trolls will take upon reading it is that it “insinuates” that there is already some form of “rebellion” fomenting against Ms. Beck’s leadership talents. The SP would like nothing better to do than direct voters’ attention away from the reality that they’ve just gone through two years of Hell dealing trying to follow with the questionable directives given by the Moe government towards Covid concerns that did nothing save give this province the highest “per capita” death rate in Canada from the virus. Equally alarming is the fact that Premier Moe is all but applying shoe polish to the boots of the Carbon Convoy’s thuggish leadership, while Nadine Wilson’s collection of Karens now operating with clashing priorities under the banner of a soon to become extinct “United” party STILL can’t come to terms with the reality that the 2024 election is going to be fought on only one front – which party can best extract our economy from its black hole spiral and finally diversify our economy for BOTH rural and urban voters.

Where did this myth come from that the Sask Party has some form of “advantage” over the NDP in a campaign focusing upon economic issues? Is the Sask Party’s “pro-business” approach more effective due to its “capitalistic orientation”? Is the NDP “against jobs” because it wants to redirect the economy towards “green” initiatives? Is “partial privatization” of health care going to clear up our elective surgery backlog? Is federal “interference” in our environmental legislation deterring the government from attracting business to Saskatchewan? Are our Crowns no longer necessary? Or after the NDP digging the province out of the Devine budget sinkhole STILL not destroy the notion that the party is just too “tax and spend” for your pocketbook? Let’s try to answer these questions by taking stock of our current economic “reality”.

First, balancing the budget is no longer a solution to our economic malaise; our deficit is already a black hole when compared with the Devine fiasco. Two premiers, Brad Wall and Scott Moe, have turned their most loyal supporters, small farming operations, into its biggest victims, no longer capable of fighting back when Big Ag ignores even the most trivial of contractual obligations such as taking delivery of product “on time” or being less willing to pay fair value for their crops.

When it comes to finding monies necessary to fund the province’s basic needs, the SP’s reliance upon a “royalty stream” coming from our non-renewable resources is already a non-starter. When Putin’s “war” with Ukraine finally ends and his government collapses, our petroleum royalty spigot will dry up faster than the fields of central Saskatchewan during the drought-plagued 2021 crop year. They are literally giving away our future wealth in negotiations involving royalty payments with emerging rare earth mineral mining entrepreneurs only too eager to harvest our abundances, even promising interested parties that their insane S.F.A bill will “protect” them from future “unwarranted federal incursion forcing” them to just clean up after themselves.

When it comes to the NDP’s understanding of health care issues, five simple changes would greatly help in clearing up the backlog of elective surgeries, not to mention put a halt to creeping privatization of some MediCare services: start using the O.R. facilities more in the evening and overnight, raise the maximum number of procedures a surgeon can perform in any given period from a number to the number of hours he/she works per week, increase the evening hour pay rates for nurses to encourage them to come back and work in the field for which they’ve been properly trained, utilize nearby larger community hospital bed space (e.g.: Shellbrook) to provide post-operative care after reasonable recovery and the operating facility and CONSOLIDATE elective surgery lists so that if one jurisdiction has extra free operating times, patients could be transported in from other jurisdictions.

As for questions concerning our Crowns, here’s a “spoiler alert”: their contribution to balancing the budget is 2% HIGHER than all of the corporations registered in Saskatchewan, combined.

Calling the NDP the “tax and spend” party is a phrase only a Scott Moe or Brad Wall could say with a straight face. We’ve had this government increase the provincial sales tax jurisdiction on among other things, restaurant meals, insurance policies and housing construction labour costs. We STILL don’t know where the SP spent the $400 million the federal government gave the province to help clean up our abandoned oil drilling sites, and have even less knowledge as to where the “spare change” the feds will be giving provinces to help pay for increasing health care costs will be spent.

In sum, ALL of these points amount to there being a debate needed as to what direction the province should head going into 2024 and beyond. Therefore, let’s just get this election campaign out from under the table as is the case now. Voters know what’s happening; we just need the politicians to admit to the facts as well.