The Calvert Legacy

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Prairielover
The Calvert Legacy

So Xmas has passed, and a friend of mine gifted me Gormley's book about the NDP and its relentless pursuit of mediocrity in Saskatchewan (the book title - not my words).  Suffice to say I'm not in agreement with much in the book, but there was a passage in the back chapter surrounding an 'NDP insider's take on the Calvert government legacy' that made me think.

What will be the Calvert government legacy?  Romanow slayed the debt, Blakeney built the crowns, Douglas built Medicare, but for the life of me I can't think of something positive and long lasting that came from the Calvert gov't.

 

My recollection of his time was mostly defensive, defending Channel Lake, Spudco, Belanger, Carriere.  The only thing I recall were things that didn't really pan out, like the low utility bill promise, or the free drugs promise.

Open for debate - what do you think the Calvert gov't legacy will be?

 

Fidel

14 consecutive balanced budgets and one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country. All that while other provinces were sliding into debt and hemorhaging manufacturing and other full-time jobs.

Saskatories will end up privatizing and strangling the economy in the end and will likely embroil themselves in some sort of Grant Devine style scandal or other. They won't be able to unsticky their fingers at some point. The voters will be sorry, mark my words.

knownothing knownothing's picture

First off I will say that Lorne is a very nice man. But people in Moose Jaw are still pissed that him and Hagel never got us a new hospital here and now the Sask Party is promising a new one and that is how they swept Moose Jaw last election. 

Prairielover

I totally agree that Lorne (and Glenn) are great people.  However a balanced budget in my mind is an expectation of government, not a legacy (notwithstanding the inability of many governments to achieve that goal).

 

Heck, even Devine can point to the construction of the U of S agriculture building as a legacy ( in addition to a number of others that aren't so positive).  And the only reason the unemployment numbers were low we're because the province was experiencing a large population decline.

 

As much as 'we're not the conservatives' is a good thing, it's not a legacy.  For the life of me, I can't think of a single Calvert initiative to benefit the province that wasn't borne out of a defensive standpoint.  And I really want to ( it makes it easier for me to argue with the friend who gifted me Gormley's book).

Fidel

What positive legacies have been created anywhere in Canada since start of the neoliberal regime in Ottawa? If wealth doesn't occur in the ground naturally, then the ideology doesn't work.

Unless our NAFTA partners prosper, and that's a big laugh, then it's like being tied to the Titanic. Our corrupt stooges in Ottawa are basically telling the provinces to sink or swim while their hands are tied to the deck rails. It's like Leonard deCaprio sinking to his watery grave while Rose is asleep on the makeshift raft. Wooo oooo! Wooo-ooo- ooo! 

Say g'bye

Unionist
6079_Smith_W

Station 20 has to be part of it, without question.

 

Fidel

This is another one of those threads where 'neoliberalism' and the federal culprits responsible are dirty words not to be mentioned for fear of invoking evol spirits or something.

And these threads tend to be a snap to participate in because all it takes is to repeat the same tired rhetoric that says, It's the NDP's fault. It's like there has never been a federal government in Ottawa to blame for anything. It's almost spooky, like invasion of the body snatchers kind of spooky.

Prairielover

Nice Unionist.  :-)

 

Fidel, I certainly wasn't trying to create an attack on the former SK NDP government, but as I went through the years in my mind, could not remember something  of a legacy for Calvert.  He is a wonderful man and a great person, but I can't put my finger on something that could be called a legacy.

 

I actually have a bit of problem in laying 'blame', as all people involved in government are there to give to the community.  Just because they don't share the same ideals as you or I does not make them any less worthy in their vision, which theoretically is supported by the majority of the people.  A premier has a lot of power, and can do a large number of things if motivated.  While some things may require alignment with other levels of government, many do not.  I cannot find a legacy of the Calvert government, other than one that was borne out of scandal defense.  This does not mean that they were not a functional or effective government, but it does mean they didn't have a long term vision for the province that they moved on.  It means they were a caretaker government.

Fidel

What do you think they could have done better to create a socialist paradise in Saskatchewan with its tiny workforce surrounded by low tax regimes of Alberta, B.C. and Ontario? In my opinion, and for what it's worth, we have to think in terms of an actually existing neoliberal setup across Canada and not how we imagine things to be. It's a law of physics that forces are always produced in pairs with opposing directions and magnitudes. If anyone tries telling me that the two old line parties have not worked diligently to oppose socialist development in this country over the last 35 years non-stop without a break, I would then realize that they are trying to pull my leg and unsuccessfully so at that. I would have to conclude that they are simply not dealing in reality.

terra1st

6079 smith:

It's not exactly calvert's legacy.  The project has come together mainly because of private donations.  The money that the calvert gov't promised to the project was promised when the writing was on the wall, so to speak, and was taken back by the brad wall gov't... As such folks had to donate money privately to ensure that a (scaled back) station 20 could be built.  It would be more accurate to say that it's existence is brad wall's legacy - that of the community banding together despite his best efforts.

It would be more accurate to say that the saskatoon farmer's market location on river landing was done under calvert's watch, but that seems kinda small to be a legacy piece.  And most liberal and even conservative governments may well have built that.  It's about as uninspiring as a low cost utility bundle.

 

I agree with prairie lover, they didn't have much of a vision under lorne calvert (who's one of the nicest guys I've met in politics).  Say what you will about the conservatives (I do), but they have a vison of the future, and an idea of how to get there.  For about 10 or 15 years it felt like we didn't have any idea of what we wanted to accomplish in government... That cost us greatly.

6079_Smith_W

@ terra1st

Yes, I know what happened, and I disagree with your interpretation. 

Calvert's government, along with many other groups, brought that project to what was supposed to be competion when they put funding in place for it. 

The fact that the community stepped in and made it happen despite the Wall government's cancellation is evidence that the the project was the right thing to do. 

And talking about who has vision and who does not really depends on your perspective. Wall certainly is visionary when it comes to attacking labour, and moving to a more corporate-style control of our province, but it is not a way I agree with. The word means nothing at all. 

And I suppose fooling the whole province into thinking he was defending our interests by preventing the BHP Billiton takeover was a visionary piece of theatre, but it really means nothing. Really, all the vision has been dedicated to entrenching his party's position.

As for what Calvert did, perhaps it may not seem "visionary" because poverty, aequate education, food, medical and dental care, and housing aren't really sexy issues to those of us who don't have to pack our kids in a cab to get  groceries.

After all, it is only taking a concrete step to fix a decade-long infrastructure hole in the centre of our largest city.

And prairielover's dismissal of maintaining a balanced budget as something to be expected is kind of funny. I thought the government's job was managing the province's affairs, not providing fodder for spin doctors. 

Is there some reason why you need to come up with a "legacy" or "vision" to pigeonhole him into, whatever those words mean? And what does this exercise have to do with the issues facing our province?

 

 

 

knownothing knownothing's picture

Gormley actually acknowledges Calvert's legacy all the time. He renegotiatied potash royalties and returned investment to the province.

Aristotleded24

It is said that the Romanow/Calvert administration did not leave any long-lasting legacy, something that will impact the province long after the end of that administration. I disagree. There is indeed a legacy from this time, and this legacy can be summed up in 3 words: Premier Brad Wall.

janfromthebruce

I actually disagree with your assessment A24. So Romanow/Calvert were in power how long and because Wall gets elected you blame them? I find that so simplistic. Romanow actually left a legacy for the NDP one that we often hold up nationally - that it was the 1st govt whether federal or provincial that balanced the budget during the bad recession of the 1990s. You may not think that is anything but it has a govt legitimate legacy for the NDP.

janfromthebruce

I actually disagree with your assessment A24. So Romanow/Calvert were in power how long and because Wall gets elected you blame them? I find that so simplistic. Romanow actually left a legacy for the NDP one that we often hold up nationally - that it was the 1st govt whether federal or provincial that balanced the budget during the bad recession of the 1990s. You may not think that is anything but it has a govt legitimate legacy for the NDP.

Aristotleded24

janfromthebruce wrote:
I actually disagree with your assessment A24. So Romanow/Calvert were in power how long and because Wall gets elected you blame them? I find that so simplistic. Romanow actually left a legacy for the NDP one that we often hold up nationally - that it was the 1st govt whether federal or provincial that balanced the budget during the bad recession of the 1990s. You may not think that is anything but it has a govt legitimate legacy for the NDP.

The Romanow/Calvert Administration coasted, and was effectively a stay-the-course government. Which works for a while, but it isn't a good way to inspire people, and eventually it costs you when the political cycle turns on itself.

While I'm not keen on running up massive deficits, I wouldn't hold up "balancing the budget" as a great achievement either. For one, that is a basic expectation of government, in the same way that showing up on time is a basic expectation when you have a job. I highly doubt that noting I was on time for work every day on performance appraisals would be enough to move my career forward. Additionally, Romanow did make cuts to services to balance the budget. You know who else balanced the budget around this time? Gary Filmon of Manitoba, and Jean Chretien federally, also at the expense of services people needed. And yes, I do blame Romanow/Calvert for the fact that Wall is entrenched, because the grassroots capacity of the Saskatchewan NDP declined under their watch, and it was that failure of engagement which nearly cost the NDP representation in the Saskatchewan Legislature. The only thing that prevented the NDP from sliding into third place was the lack of a third party in the legislature.

Fidel

They have the dullest governments in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. What they need in the prairies is some sort of fantasy theme, like we have in Pinocchio's Ontariariario. The fun never ends.

6079_Smith_W

You're right Aristotleded24, I don't know how we stay awake here, things are so steady-as-she-goes. Whoever thought electing a premier who can't juggle and tap dance would be a good idea?

What we really need is to hike our car insurance rates by 500%  That will inspire us for sure.

http://www.consumer.ca/1575

Fidel

I almost forgot about that perk. It's one of those gifts that keeps on giving.

Aristotleded24

6079_Smith_W wrote:
You're right Aristotleded24, I don't know how we stay awake here, things are so steady-as-she-goes. Whoever thought electing a premier who can't juggle and tap dance would be a good idea?

What we really need is to hike our car insurance rates by 500%  That will inspire us for sure.

First off, even Gordon Campbell in the aftermath of his first election victory never touched ICBC, and Brad Wall has the sense to know that doing so would be political suicide.

Secondly, if the Romanow/Calvert administration was that great, why did average voter turnout decline under the watch of that government, and why was that government voted out at historically low popularity levels for the NDP? Why did the opposition NDP fail to inspire people, and lose seats and hand Brad Wall a popular mandate that even Tommy Douglas never received? I'm not defending Brad Wall, but the fact is, he knows he's not going to win us over, so the fact that we don't like him doesn't count for much. What is the NDP doing to inspire people? Yes, compotent government is good, but that in itself is not enough. Where is your vision? Where do you want to take the province? If you have to decide between promoting 2 employees, and one can highlight great career accomplishments while the other highlights the fact that (s)he merely showed up for work on time every day, who would you pick?

6079_Smith_W

Aristotleded24 wrote:

 Where do you want to take the province? If you have to decide between promoting 2 employees, and one can highlight great career accomplishments while the other highlights the fact that (s)he merely showed up for work on time every day, who would you pick?

Is that example meant to illustrate a comparison between Lorne Calvert and Brad Wall? Because I am not sure what you mean by "great career accomplishments" . Frankly the only things I approve of that Wall has done is to hold back on a lot of the policies I am sure he would like to bring in.

If that was your meaning, you'll have to be a bit more specific about what you expect from government. Personally, I have never looked to it for entertainment; quite the opposite, actually. I think it is like the curse about living in interesting times.

Now I know the NDP have screwed up, and I think Calvert was saddled with the problem of coming in at the end of a long NDP run, and the further away it got from the days of Grant Devine the less people were going to remember of how it was before.

And as I said already, I question the whole premise of a "legacy", because it smacks of style over substance - that it doesn't matter what policies a government brings in so long as they do it in a flashy and sexy way.

(edit)

And I know Brad Wall knows it is political suicide to do those things in an overt way, but that hasn't stopped him from undermining public utilities - by attacking labour,  and selling off parts of the crowns, and co9ntracting out.

 

 

knownothing knownothing's picture

Low Insurance and utility rates

Prairielover

Smith, I think that a legacy is important for governments.  Obviously if they had their choice, it would always be a good one, but all governments have both.  A couple that come to mind:

 

Devine - good, built the U of S ag building, bad, debt, mismanagement, fraud, etc.

Romanow, good, saved the province from default, bad, closed rural hospitals, placed interprovincial trade barriers around crowns

Blakeney, good, built crowns, bad, nationalized potash (some may argue that was good:-))

 

Regardless, a government or era is usually remembered by something that they did, which was their legacy - I think that is important.  What comes to mind when you speak of those governments?  Examples that are clear:

Mulroney - free trade is his legacy, no question

Trudeau - in the west, the NEP is his legacy

Going back a bit further, in the US, FDR built the interstate system.

 

Going back to my original question, Calvert doesn't seem to have one - is this because he had no vision, or because he was reactive, or because of they just never accomplished anything?

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

Why do you feel that it was bad that Blakeney nationalized(or, more accurately, provincialized)potash?  Is there any inherent reason potash should be a private-sector thing?

Wilf Day

knownothing wrote:

First off I will say that Lorne is a very nice man. But people in Moose Jaw are still pissed that him and Hagel never got us a new hospital here and now the Sask Party is promising a new one and that is how they swept Moose Jaw last election. 

I wonder how typical that is?

At the start of the Saskatchewan NDP's successful 16-year run in 1991, it won Meadow Lake, Turtleford, Redberry, Cut Knife-Lloydminster, Cumberland, Kelsey-Tisdale, Kinistino, Melfort, Nipawin, Shellbrook-Torch River, Biggar, Rosetown-Elrose, Humboldt, Canora, Kelvington-Wadena, Last Mountain-Touchwood, Melville, Pelly, Quill Lakes, Saltcoats, Shaunavon, Assiniboia-Gravelbourg, Swift Current, Bengough-Milestone, Indian Head-Wolseley, Qu’Appelle-Lumsden and Weyburn. Not to mention Moose Jaw Wakamow, Moose Jaw Palliser, Prince Albert Carlton, Prince Albert Northcote, The Battlefords, Yorkton, and all but one seat in Regina and Saskatoon. And the voter turnout for the 1991 general election was 83.22%.

Twelve years later it won Meadow Lake, Athabasca, Cumberland, and Saskatchewan Rivers. Not to mention Moose Jaw Wakamow, Moose Jaw North, Prince Albert Carlton, Prince Albert Northcote, The Battlefords, and Yorkton, and all but three seats in Regina and Saskatoon.
And the voter turnout for the 2003 general election was 65.50%.

Books have been written, I suspect, on the decline of rural support for Canada's original farmer-labour party. Can anyone venture a precis, and a prescription for a rural uprising?

6079_Smith_W

@ Prairielover

I don't. 

As I said, I think it is something spindoctors, and journalists care about to some up with sound bytes and fill pages. As for the rest of us, I don't particularly care, and I don't see governments that way.

The other thing reducing politicians to a legacy does is ignore everything else that happened  while they were in office, and different people would pick different things. For one thing, the things you choose say more about you than they do about any of the politicians you mention. 

Again, in many things it is style over substance, and highly based on one's own political biases. One is likely to see "vision" in policies with which you agree, and "rigidity and dogmatism" in policies with which you do not.

Or, as in this case, just refuse to recognize that something like trying to deal with poverty is important enough to be considered visionary. 

It's a fun exercise, but something a government must have to be considered successful? Nonsense.

Two days  after Jack Layton died Evan Solomon came on the National (in a news piece, no less) and ranted for a minute about how Jack Layton was solely responsible for the success of the NDP and they would be nothing now that he is gone. Was that an accurate summation of his legacy, or even useful? 

 

 

Fidel

Prairielover wrote:

Smith, I think that a legacy is important for governments.  Obviously if they had their choice, it would always be a good one, but all governments have both.  A couple that come to mind:

 

Devine - good, built the U of S ag building, bad, debt, mismanagement, fraud, etc.

Romanow, good, saved the province from default, bad, closed rural hospitals, placed interprovincial trade barriers around crowns

Blakeney, good, built crowns, bad, nationalized potash (some may argue that was good:-))

 

Regardless, a government or era is usually remembered by something that they did, which was their legacy - I think that is important.  What comes to mind when you speak of those governments?  Examples that are clear:

Mulroney - free trade is his legacy, no question

Trudeau - in the west, the NEP is his legacy

Going back a bit further, in the US, FDR built the interstate system.

 

Going back to my original question, Calvert doesn't seem to have one - is this because he had no vision, or because he was reactive, or because of they just never accomplished anything?

 

If you deny ALL of the pre-existing conditions leading up to Calvert's amazing string of balanced budgets, then the NDP's fiscal responsibility in Saskatchewan doesn't look so impressive. Even though successive Liberal and Tory governments have racked-up ridiculous amounts of federal and provincial debt since 1975, the NDP is still true to its CCF roots when balancing budgets while federal NDP continued voting against the neoliberal economic voodoo orchestrated in Ottawa for the last 30-35 years. And that is a feat and achievement by itself to avoid racking-up debt while, and at the same time, refusing to pawn-off the family jewels and silverware as a response to deficits and debt as per the neoliberal ideology.

Fiscal Record of Canadian Political Parties

Rogue economist Michael Hudson says the new business plan is this: debt = "wealth creation" Ottawa and the other two parties provincially have contributed the most to "wealth creation" on behalf of creditors in Canada and abroad. The new business plan was underway in Mulroney's time with selling off majority ownership and control of three dozen key sectors of Canada's economy to foreign multinationals and mainly superrich Americans since 1985 and scrapping of FIRA.

FDR New Deal solutions are probably out of date today given that which you make no mention of in driving to your conclusion about Calvert's record in government. You are implying that money creation is the same in Canada as it was after 1935 during what was the USA's New Deal era south of us. And that's not true. Canada's big six banking monopoly was handed 95% of money creation and therefore, federal powers of resource allocation" by 1991. Things are not like they were in Canada between 1938 and 1974. In fact, things are very different in Canada compared to the FDR-Mackenzie King through the Trudeau era. In the late 1990s J.K. Galbraith said that New Deal solutions will not be adequate to fix today's structural and fiscal problems in North America. I agree.

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

Prairielover wrote:

Smith, I think that a legacy is important for governments.  Obviously if they had their choice, it would always be a good one, but all governments have both.  A couple that come to mind:

 

Devine - good, built the U of S ag building, bad, debt, mismanagement, fraud, etc.

Romanow, good, saved the province from default, bad, closed rural hospitals, placed interprovincial trade barriers around crowns

Blakeney, good, built crowns, bad, nationalized potash (some may argue that was good:-))

 

Regardless, a government or era is usually remembered by something that they did, which was their legacy - I think that is important.  What comes to mind when you speak of those governments?  Examples that are clear:

Mulroney - free trade is his legacy, no question

Trudeau - in the west, the NEP is his legacy

Going back a bit further, in the US, FDR built the interstate system.

 

FDR's legacy was the New Deal programs-including Social Security.

It was Eisenhower that built the Interstate highway system.  He tied it into the Cold War(which is why there are so many random straightaways that are boring to drive on...there were requirements in the Interstate Highway Act that there be long-enough straightaways to land military aircraft on at regular intervals(this was the era in which the U.S. was still assuming a Soviet military invasion was a real possibility) in the road system.

 

Fidel

Eisenhower interstates called for a minimum of one mile of straight highway after every 8 miles of curvy-twisty one. I think it was the B52's that needed lots of runway in an emergency situation.

It's not like that here in Northern Ontario. Not at all. You can have 20 kliks of dead man's curve on a bush road and some trucker with a load of logs on your ass for the entire 20. Great fun in winter.

genstrike

Ken Burch wrote:

It was Eisenhower that built the Interstate highway system.  He tied it into the Cold War(which is why there are so many random straightaways that are boring to drive on...there were requirements in the Interstate Highway Act that there be long-enough straightaways to land military aircraft on at regular intervals(this was the era in which the U.S. was still assuming a Soviet military invasion was a real possibility) in the road system.

 

This is actually an urban legend.  The real reason why roads are often straight is a lot more mundane:  straight roads are simpler and more direct, unless there are issues with terrain.

Fidel

Ken Burch wrote:

Prairielover wrote:

Smith, I think that a legacy is important for governments.  Obviously if they had their choice, it would always be a good one, but all governments have both.  A couple that come to mind:

 

Devine - good, built the U of S ag building, bad, debt, mismanagement, fraud, etc.

Romanow, good, saved the province from default, bad, closed rural hospitals, placed interprovincial trade barriers around crowns

Blakeney, good, built crowns, bad, nationalized potash (some may argue that was good:-))

 

Regardless, a government or era is usually remembered by something that they did, which was their legacy - I think that is important.  What comes to mind when you speak of those governments?  Examples that are clear:

Mulroney - free trade is his legacy, no question

Trudeau - in the west, the NEP is his legacy

Going back a bit further, in the US, FDR built the interstate system.

 

FDR's legacy was the New Deal programs-including Social Security.

It was Eisenhower that built the Interstate highway system.  He tied it into the Cold War(which is why there are so many random straightaways that are boring to drive on...there were requirements in the Interstate Highway Act that there be long-enough straightaways to land military aircraft on at regular intervals(this was the era in which the U.S. was still assuming a Soviet military invasion was a real possibility) in the road system.

 

That's right. And today there are rules for maximum length of the highway system and connections to major military installations.

Quote:
The STRAHNET includes highways which are important to the United States strategic defense policy and which provide defense access, continuity, and emergency capabilities for the movement of personnel, materials, and equipment in both peace time and war time.

Continuity was also a consideration for the design of ARPANet and basically a contingency plan in the event that the red coats knocked out communications installations by missile attacks - nuclear missiles which were never launched. The packet switching network was created with that scenario in mind.

The military has been in control since 1947. Truman said, Let's stay armed all the time. The republic was overthrown with the signing of the National Security Act behind closed doors. The Act created the Joint Chiefs of Staff, NSA and CIA in 1947. And it's been a military dictatorship ever since.

Fighter jets carry out drill on freeway 2011

F16's land, take off from Freeway No. 1. On one of the Eisenhower interstates? 

In the US client state of Taiwan!

knownothing knownothing's picture