Sask NDP leadership race - part deux

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I think Lingenfelter has attracted a wide range of support including some individuals with a long history in the party and others who are brand new to the NDP. However, I think based on the kind of work Lingenfelter has done since entering into the leadership race such as going to local constituency events, meeting with individuals in rural Saskatchewan, holding many events targetted towards the younger voter and meeting with groups in regards to policy I think Lingenfelter has shown that he can renew the party especially since that seems to be his main reason for running to be the Leader.

Malcolm Malcolm's picture

I don't know, G&W.  I base my assessment that Dwain is on the right OF THE PARTY on having been active at one level or another of the party for more than 30 years and from knowing Dwain passing well.  It isn't slander for crissake, it's a freaking observation.  Hell, Tommy Douglas (despite Socialist Caucus revisionism) was to the right of the party.


As much as I'll criticize much of the old guard, I have to rise to the defence of Dale Schmeichel.  His Curmudgeonliness is actually one of the most effective organizers I've seen in years.  Without Schmeichel's effective management of the 2003 election, we'd have had our asses in a sling despite the SaskParty having run the most incompetent campaign imaginable.


Schmeichel's fate when he returned from his sojourn as Provincial Secretary was illustrative of the general cock-up which was the Calvert inner circle.  Schmeichel, who happily took one for the team, accepting an enormous pay cut to become Provincial Secretary, was left to rot for months.  In the eyes of the brain rust surrounding Lorne Calvert, Schmeichel had committed the ultimate sin of being competent.


One committed Calvert loyalist once said to me that LAC's main weakness was a tendency to be loyal to people who didn't deserve it.  The result was that people who did deserve it were cast aside like last night's pot scrapings.


And now we've made one of the leaders of that brain rust Provincial Secretary.  Lord have mercy.

hunter s

greenandwhite wrote:

I think Lingenfelters personal record and that of his record in government will go a long way to ensure that individuals in rural Saskatchewan will look to the NDP as the party they decide best represents them.

hunter s


Do tell us which seats in rural Sask that Lingenfelter, if he does become leader, is going to win the NDP in 2011?

I am assuming you remember, he himself, lost his own rural seat in Shaunavon in 1986 and then represented Regina-Elphinstone there ever after.

Link can hold all the coffee parties he wants out in rural and it will not help the NDP to make a serious comeback in this part of the province any time soon.

You might also want to ask Link, should a rural seat come open, if he would seek the NDP nomination there?


Yes, I read Green and White's statement with some amazement. If his or her thinking is at all typical of the Saskatchewan NDP, I suppose it explains a lot. 

Malcolm Malcolm's picture

In fairness, I think that Dwain Lingenfelter is seen by many people in rural Saskatchewan as better connected to them than most senior New Democrats these days.  It is worth remembering that he has one claim to rural cred that young Mr. Wall does not.  Only one of them has ever had a permit book - and he still has it.


I don't quite know what Hunter is proposing.  Should we write off rural Saskatchewan?  I mean, in the long run there will be more and more urban seats and fewer and fewer rural seats.


I don't think any one is quite so deluded as to believe that a few coffee parties would be enough to turn around a political trend that's older than most of Link's potential challengers.  But coffee parties is a damned site better than what the sclerotic Romanow - Calvert inner circle have done over the last 20 years.


Link (like any other potential candidate who isn't a complete moron) is arguing that we should be rebuilding constituency organizations.  Can you explain to me, Hunter, why that strategy isn't correct?

non sequitur

I don't take issue with Dwain's efforts in the rural part of the province either.  Not only is it difficult for NDP to win elections when 20 or so seats are out of play, but it simply isn't good social democratic politics.  Rural Saskatchewan has been especially hard hit recently by the massive fluxuations in global grain/fertilizer/inputs/commodity prices.  Dwain's intelligence and long view will go a long way to make us credible in rural Saskatchewan.  I am in total agreement with G & W on that point.  He's probably the strongest candidate the party will find on that front.

More importantly, and perhaps indicative of Dwain's long view - and something that G & W has not pointed out, is the more important task of reaching out to communities the party has never been strong in, i.e. visible minority groups, academics and the like.  Why G & W hasn't raised this I have no idea.

It goes back to my original thought on Dwain - he's probably the best person for the job, notwithstanding a dark horse candidate - but his crew have no idea on how to communicate his message.  Dwain is a very bright fellow.  I'd just like to see him show his skills with a platform launch before I get on board with him.

hunter s

I think Lingenfelter is a shrewd enough politician to know that running a 58 seat strategy that includes all rural seats is foolish just as the Sask Party does not seriously run candidates in all seats in Regina and Saskatoon.

Malcolm, what do i think the strategy should be? 

The NDP needs to stop talking in such general terms about rural Sask and get on with job of identifying which seats mesh with our values and not get too worried about the rest. These days, large parts of the farmgate just do not agree with where the NDP stands on many issues and the party just has to accept that. Thus, the party should be focusing on the small rural cities - the Meadow Lakes, Weyburns, Humboldts, Nipawins and leave it at that. 

Furthermore, I think the party must be very careful not to endorse policies that may be popular in rural Sask. but are just plain silly in terms of public policy - drastically reducing education property taxes, never closing any schools or hospitals, etc.

Let's face it, everyone knows Link was a pretty good constituency MLA and even he lost his rural seat. 


Hunter, you do not have to be shrewd enough to know that the Saskatchewan party has been gaining in city seats and as a result if the NDP are going to be competitive they will have to run a serious campaign in rural Saskatchewan. Lingenfelter was defeated in 1986 but he with stood the 1982 landslide in rural Saskatchewan. By writing off large areas of Saskatchewan you do no favours for the party but hurt us in the long run. The reason the Saskatchewan Party has done so well is because they hold onto their base and go into areas that the NDP are strong in. Once the NDP lost some of the rural seats in picked up in the 1991 election they never went back to these areas and as a result they quickly became difficult seats for the NDP to win and the party which used to have strong rural constituencies are now non-existant.

Non sequitur, I have not raised any issues on the new groups that Link might target as I believe it was either yourself or Malcolm who already pointed out that Link has been meeting with academics and other groups.

hunter s


The two northern seats are "pretty" large areas of the province as are the areas that comprise Meadow Lake, Big River, North Battelford, Prince Albert, Moose Jaw, Weyburn, Humboldt, Nipawin, Lloydminster, etc.

All I am saying, and I believe Link deep down knows this, the farmgate is not coming back anytime soon.  Or do you perhaps have some policies up your sleeve that the NDP should be promoting in order to get the farmgate back?

Do tell. 


     Let's man (Lingenfelter) has been an exec with an oil company and the other (Wall) couldn't sell country music in Saskatchewan.  Hmmm.  Who would you say was the one best equipped to lead the province in tough times?  One was part of the administration which almost bankrupted the province and the other was part of the team that solved the previous crisis.  Hmmm.  And oddly, the social democrat, the one with the conscience is willing to come over to the public sector while the I, me, mine, conservative has spent a lifetime milking the public system.



I think Link knows it will be a challenge but if the NDP are going to stay relevant they have to be able to represent all of the province. If you are going to start out the discussion ruling out being active in every single constituency then I really have no desire to talk to you. Not trying to be rude but I simply believe that the NDP cannot afford to start out in an election giving up a number of seats well the SP are targetting nearly every one. If you believe in the spillover effect then giving up on certain constituencies is bad in the long run as if you give up the rural seats outside Saskatoon it helps the Saskatchewan party win seats in the seat.

non sequitur

I think Hunter does raise a fair point.  What exactly is Dwain proposing in order to win back rural Saskatchewan?  Having lunch meetings is important in the sense of connecting with existing and past members, but it really doesn't address the bigger problems our movement has in those areas.

It again goes back to the big point, namely why is Dwain running?  I am convinced that he is the most qualified of the rumoured bunch, but his team isn't saying anything other than "we can win".  Well, Romanow won rural SK for one election and then fell flat.  What is Dwain proposing that will lead to longer term relevance in rural Saskatchewan, outside of meetings?  Surely a man with that level of intelligence and political savvy has some really good ideas.

Not trying to be rude, but the leader of the party should provide some political direction, not just management of the party apparatus.


I'm not sure Hunter raised a point other then to put down the idea of competing in rural Saskatchewan. Having meetings in rural Saskatchewan is the first step to selling a message in the communities. You can have some of the best agriculture policy around but if you do not do the first step of building local constituencies then nobody is going to be selling the policy.

The ground work is the first step of any leadership race and that is exactly what Lingenfelter is doing. I expect policy to be discussed in the new year but at the same time Lingenfelter wants to hold policy meetings throughout the province so I expect he will have some ideas but at the same time he wants members to have a voice in policy development.

Malcolm Malcolm's picture

Only a fool (or a SaskParty operative) would argue that the NDP should write off rural Saskatchewan apart from the small cities.  Implicitly that means writing off 10 seats entirely and another ten in four out of five elections.


Oh, sure, aggravating the urban - rural split has its advantages.  For example, in the clusterfuck of the last election, it helped to disguise the fact that the NDP`s popular vote was the lowest since the 1930s. 


Really building the party means taking all 58 seats seriously.  Sure, we may direct more resources to some seats than others, but if anyone seriously proposes writing off rural Saskatchewan, I want their ass expelled from the party.


I was once the president of a riding association where the party hadn't won since 1944.  This was the 80s, and senior members of the executive seriously argued that we should simply give the next candidate the price of the deposit and a pair of running shoes, with any money we raised going elsewhere.


When I became riding president, that constituency association was years in arrears on its quota, hadn't done any serious organizing in a decade, and was dominated by people who thought losing was somehow noble.


By the time I left (and I was president for 18 months), the constituency was paying on its current year quota for the first time in a generation.  We'd had a nominating convention with three serious candidates, an overflow crowd with 150 people outside on the lawn, and we raised more than $10K in one financial appeal.


We didn't win the seat in 1986.  Or in 1991.


But guess what happened in 1995?


AEB used to tell a story of getting a call from david Lewis the night of the 1971 election.  During the conversation, Lewis said, "I see you've won Maple Creek."  Blakeney laughed and said that was obviously a mistake.  There was no way we could have won Maple Creek.  "It wasn't until our first caucus meeting as government that I met the new NDP MLA for Maple Creek."


Hunter doubtless would have told Jack Layton not to bother with the Outremont byelection.  Hunter would have certainly told the Nova Scotia New Democrats to fold up the tent.




We have 58 constituencies in Saskatchewan.  At one point or another, our party has held 56 of them.  And we've come within 100 votes twice in Moosomin.


hunter s

Hey Malcolm,

Were you David Karwacki's campaign manager in 2003? You know, the one where the Liberals ran a provincial campaign.

Thought so.

Maybe you and G&W can get together and run Link's NDP campaign in Cypress Hills and then he can fire you both. 

hunter s

Malcolm wrote:

We didn't win the seat in 1986. Or in 1991.

But guess what happened in 1995?

And guess what happened in 1999, 2003 and 2007? Your point?

hunter s

Malcolm wrote:

Hunter doubtless would have told Jack Layton not to bother with the Outremont byelection. Hunter would have certainly told the Nova Scotia New Democrats to fold up the tent.


Malcolm, you are aware that Jack campaigned only in Regina and Saskatoon in the last federal election. Are you mad at him now too?

Malcolm Malcolm's picture

Actually, I believe Karwacki's campaign was run by Frank Quennelle's brother Les.


Despite your distortions, I'm not arguing against priorizing election campaign resources to seats where you have the best chance of winning.  I'll happily invest more resources in Meadow Lake than in Maple Creek DURING A CAMPAIGN.


But your initial comments were not restricted to election campaigns.  You wrote off the significance of organizing in rural seats.


Apparently you want to give the Sask Party a 15 seat head start.


If you support the Saskatchewan Party, that makes sense.


If you are a New Democrat, its worse than stupid.


We should be building up 58 strong constituency associations. 

- It will increase the number of winnable seats in any given election.

- It increases the number of party activists investing time, energy, ideas and (let us not forget) money into the overall struggle.

- It minimizes (though does not eliminate) the prospect of the party being embarrassed by a weak candidate who wins in a fluke.  (Joanne Zazalenchuk, Gay Caswell).


If you're just talking about how we target resources during an election campaign, Hunter, that's one ting.


But you didn't say "during an election campaign."  You wrote off the importance in building up the party in rural Saskatchewan.  That is a strategy for fools and for SaskParty operatives.


Hunter, were you aware that Jack Layton has invested significant time and energy building an NDP organization in Quebec, which has been a wasteland for the party for a mere 75 years?  And now, for the first time, we have seen the NDP win a Quebec seat in a general election.


Funny how organizing in an area of weakness turned so well.


BTW, WRT 1991, 1995, 1999 etc.


It is very unusual for a party elected in a landslide to win new seats at the next general election.  Yet the SaskNDP won a couple of new seats in what would normally be unlikely circumstances.  As the NDP declined over the ensuing elections (in part because geniuses like you said organizing was a waste of time), it is no surprise that the most marginal wins were among the first to fall.


Hunter, do you have anything to contribute? Clearly, you are an SP supporter if you are openly stating the NDP should not waste their time organzing in rural Saskatchewan.

non sequitur

In fairness GW, you haven't mentioned the importance of organizing in Regina, Stoon, PA or MJ in the last 2 threads.  Nobody has accused you of having nothing to contribute.


hunter s

G&W, let's go back to your original statement:

greenandwhite wrote:

I think Lingenfelters personal record and that of his record in government will go a long way to ensure that individuals in rural Saskatchewan will look to the NDP as the party they decide best represents them.

You don't have to be a Sask Party supporter to know this is a ridiculous statement. Find me a political scientist in the province that would agree with it and we'll talk. But, you won't because it is unadulterated nonsense.

Link's pesonal record and his record in government will go a long way to ensuring individuals in rural Sask look to the NDP as the party that best represents them? How so?

Link was certainly one of the strongest members of a small NDP caucus from 82-86 but he still lost his seat to a PC no name in 86.

He was a major player in an NDP government that made several difficult, but necessary decisions for the province, from 91-95 but paid the price for these decisions in rural as the government started to experience a slide in this part of the province post 95.

He was then again a major player in an NDP government from 95-99 that governed generally well but became somewhat out of touch and made more than a few strategic errors. We all know the end result of this story - the NDP was blown out in rural Sask, almost lost the government, Romanow resigned and Link left for Calgary.

I don't disagree with you that Link's record is a strong one but your argument that it is going to help in rural Sask is not based in fact.

Either you are working directly for Lingenfelter or incredibly naive. Either way, I don't think anyone is buying.


I never mentioned it because I thought it was kind of obvious that when I said the party needs to organize in all constituencies that included Regina, Saskatoon, Prince Albert and Moose Jaw.

Hunter my statement is far from ridiculous. I think having an individual who goes through the same thing as every othe farmer does gives him a connection to rural Saskatchewan that others do not have. Though how do you say Lingenfelter has a strong record on rural Saskatchewan but it will not help?

Though I am glad you have seemed to move away from your suggestion of ignorining rural Saskatchewan.


hunter s


Who is distorting now?

I never said that it wasn't worthwhile for the NDP to try to revitalize rural constituency associatons. Of course the party should work to the best to its ability to ensure all riding associations are active and ready to fight election campaigns. Of course all candidates run to win and of course all riding associations do their best to help them in is this goal.

However, it is a pretty far stretch to go from saying this to suddenly concluding the party will be competitive in farmgate seats in the next election. It is simply not going to happen.

The days of the family farm in rural Sask are long gone and the area is now largely made up of big business large landholders that are not, to anyone's surprise, NDP.

Rather than the NDP chasing silly Sask Party policies such as, with no reason to, reducing education property taxes or never closing a rural hospital or school - we should set a path that is responsible and fair for all of the province - rural and urban.

That is all I am trying to say.

BTW - which exact constituency are you talking about that the CCF/NDP had not held since 1944 but won in 1995?

hunter s

I didn't say Lingenfelter has a strong record in rural Sask.

I said he has a strong record but it is not viewed strongly in rural Sask.

Bernie Wiens, Clay Serby and Maynard Sonntag are farmers too. Pat Atkinson has a farming background. How many farmers do you think, in terms of voting, connect with them?

Not many. 


Hunter, it is not far stretched to say that if we have 58 strong constituency organizations that we have a chance to be competitive in all local races next election. Will we win every single one or come close in every single one? No, but we will ensure that the Saskatchewan party is going to have to spend its time fighting an election both in rural and urban Saskatchewan instead of what they did in 2007 and simply focus on urban Saskatchewan because the NDP gave up on rural Saskatchewan.

I am not sure how advocating for organizations in rural Saskatchewan is chasing the policies of the Saskatchewan party. Many of the same people who voted NDP in 1991 in rural Saskatchewan are still there but because the NDP has taken the path you advocate of largely ignoring rural Saskatchewan they have quit being active in the party and as a result our organization in rural Saskatchewan is extremely weak in some areas and non-existant in others. I agree we should set a path that is fair and responsible for all parts of the province but I do not think you can advocate for that if you automatically have given up on one region of the provinces.

Have you been to rural Saskatchewan? Obviously individuals from any political party who have a rural background are going to be able to connect to rural Saskatchewan then somebody who does not have that background.

Clearly, when Romanow appointed Lingenfelter and then Serby to serve as Agriculture Minister in part it was based on both individuals ability to work but also the fact they both come from a rural past so they would have a better ability to connect.

Hunter, at the end of the day I am not sure what you are advocating. If you are going to have a goal of attemtping to ensure we have strong orgranizations in all 58 constituencies then it only makes sense to campaign as if you can win otherwise there is not point in putting the time into such a goal.

It does not make any sense to automatically start out an election campaign conceeding nearly 20 seats. The Saskatchewan Party does not just campaign in rural Saskatchewan but has now focused its sights on urban Saskatchewan and Northern Saskatchewan. Cumberland has elected a CCF or NDP MLA since 1952 and yet the Saskatchewan party came within less then 200 votes of winning that seat in the last by-election. It might have been a fluke but it simply proves that the Saskatchewan party never accepted the attitude or idea of giving up on an entire region of the provinces. If the Saskatchewan party is making gains in northern and urban Saskatchewan and rural Saskatchewan being theirs by default of the NDP automatically giving up on it, then how is the NDP going to survive? Once the Saskatchewan party holds on to a number of urban seats for a few elections are we automatically going to concede those seats to them? We simply cannot afford the attitude that some seats are already lost once an election happens. Does that mean you invest the same amount of resources in Meadow Lake compared to Swift Current? No, but you do not have an attitude that 20 seats are already going to the Saskatchewan party so we won't compete anyway. If thats the attitude the party wants to take then say goodbye to ever forming government and implementing progressive policies and the party will continue to have either weak or non-existant orgranization as a result of party members in these areas do not want to be part of a party that ignores their area.

non sequitur

Having an effective organization is half the battle.  GW is bang on in that respect.  We need to have 58 strong constituency associations.

That being said, there is not one single social democratic party in the northern hemisphere that has a strong base in rural areas (indigenous regions notwithstanding).  Surely this cannot be chalked up to universally poor organization in rural/agrarian areas.  What policies should the SK NDP be proposing in order to achieve this unique and herculean task GW?


I'm not sure on policy but I think once we rebuild some of the rural constituency associations that former and new members from rural Saskatchewan will be able to suggest some ideas. Nobody is saying we are going to automatically win rural Saskatchewan with organization but without an organization you have no campaign and no chance to compete.

hunter s

Okay G&W, you are clearly working for Lingenfelter, so, by the authority of Rabble, Saskatchewan Section, I hereby appoint you Link's rural campaign manager.

Now, that said, here are few questions you need to answer:

1. If Link truly understands, connects and wants to represent rural Sask, the logical conclusion to this statement is that he will seek a rural nomination. So, if this is the case, where do you think he should seek a rural nomination?

2. You say Link advocates for rural organizations. So, which ones? Please expand.

3. You say with Link as leader the NDP has the potential to be competitive in a number of rural seats in the next election. Okay, then, as Link's rural campaign manager which specific seats are you talking about?

I am of course assuming that it won't take you long to answer these questions with your already vast knowledge and experience in rural Sask, the party, etc. 

hunter s

Hey G&W,

Aren't you putting the cart before the horse there?

Why do you assume people in rural Sask will just show up to a meeting, work for the party and try and win rural seats just because the meeting has NDP stamped on it?

Isn't the problem here that in order to rebuild, revitalize, renew and attract new members to the party, in both rural and urban, the party MUST renew policy. You want to build the organiation first and talk about the policy as an afterthought. I don't think it works that way. This is what has gotten the NDP into the trouble it is currently in, in the first place and what NS continues to try and tell you but you simply fail to heed NS's very wise advice.

As a dedicated member of Link's team, is this vacuity of ideas a character defect in just you or is it symptomatic of the whole team?

I certainly hope the latter is not the case for his sake.

non sequitur

In terms of pure gusto, if Link were to announce that he was running in a rural seat, it might actually create some excitement in this boring contest.  Especially if Dwain is making rural party renewal a (much needed) priority.

On the point of policy, I'm not suggesting that Dwain should put forth a 100 page document at this stage in the contest.  But... there should be at least a skeletal approach to where he wants Saskatchewan to be under a Lingenfelter government.  Leadership means more than managerial competence in the form of selling party memberships.

Even one broad idea.  Is that asking too much?

non sequitur

In terms of pure gusto, if Link were to announce that he was running in a rural seat, it might actually create some excitement in this boring contest.  Especially if Dwain is making rural party renewal a (much needed) priority.

On the point of policy, I'm not suggesting that Dwain should put forth a 100 page document at this stage in the contest.  But... there should be at least a skeletal approach to where he wants Saskatchewan to be under a Lingenfelter government.  Leadership means more than managerial competence in the form of selling party memberships.

Even one broad idea.  Is that asking too much?


Hunter, I don't need to awnser any of your questions as clearly you are against the NDP and rural Saskatchewan. What your ideas be for rural Saskatchewan other then to ignore it? Where is the proof I am working for Lingenfelter? I am in no way working for him. I stated I think Link because of his rural background and being a farmer could connect with rural Saskatchewan better then an individual who has only lived in urban Saskatchewan. That is not a knock against anybody but simply what I view as the truth. The same would apply to Nettie Wiebe given her rural background she also would have an advantage in connecting with rural Saskatchewan. I simply do not understand the hostility you have towards rural Saskatchewan and the defeatist attitude you have towards the NDP having success in organizing or being competitive in rural areas. I am not sure why this is a negative or even being debated.

I think many former members that are now rejoining are doing so because nobody in the past asked them rejoin so no I don't think thats putting the cart before the horse. Link has promised that if he is elected Leader then the party will hold policy meetings in every region of the province. I certainly agree in order to attract some new members policy ideas will be an important factor.

Non sequitur, I think if you look at his website you can easily find broad ideas that will as the campaign continues turn into these broad themes into some concrete policies but I think you have to take into account is the pledge by Link to hold policy consultation forums across the province to allow individuals to discuss, debate and create policy ideas from the grassroots. I certainly agree policy ideas are needed from all leadership candidates and I expect Link to come out with his own. However, I do believe that members should play a key role in deciding the policy of the party.

hunter s


How do you do it? Somehow, you have managed to underperform my very low expectations for you. How do you expect to get any sort of role in Link's campaign if you can't even answer these basic questions?

In general, I think you are completely missing the point here. The party doesn't just need to reach out to former members, it desparately needs NEW and YOUNGER members if it is to be successful. The only way to do that is through IDEAS.

Your strategy is, "vote for me because I have been successful in the past." That might work for you but it will not work for anyone who has never been involved but may be thinking of getting involved in the party.

You like to parrot that I don't support the NDP or rural Sask because I don't endorse your VERY LIMITED way of thinking but the lines you use are very similar to the ones the Sask Party is currently using. "Our leader is the greatest, just because he is, blah, blah, blah."

Contrary to whatever you are peddling, New Democrats are a lot smarter than this and they almost never support the line of reasoning you are using.

Are you perhaps one of Brad's minions? 

hunter s

non sequitur wrote:

In terms of pure gusto, if Link were to announce that he was running in a rural seat, it might actually create some excitement in this boring contest.

Yes, NS, but it would end up generating much more excitement for the Sask Party if Link then proceeded to lose this seat in a by-election or general election.


Clearly we finally agree. Like I said before and many times before the party has to attract former and new members and I think Link is doing exactly that by holding events entirely aimed at youth to allow them to mee with them and discuss ideas.

I would actually disagree on it won't work for anyone who has never been involved. I would point to the Obama campaign where many individuals joined the campaign based on leadership.

I am unsure Hunter how arguing for organzing 58 strong consituencies is very limited thinking?

I think the NDP members are extremely smart and I am glad that party has individuals such as Malcolm who completely disagrees with me on the best person to be the leader of the party should be. However, we both seem to agree that the NDP cannot allow for weak organizations to continue in any constituency be rural, urban or in the north and that also in part means not starting out a campaign with the idea of giving up 20 seats automatically.

Hunter, you agree that it is essential that the party has strong ogranizations in all 58 constituencys. So would it not make some sense to conclude if we as a part are going to work towards creating those strong organiations that we have a positive mentality of the possibilities of what the party is able to do?

If you disagree with Link that both organizing in all 58 constituencies and having a positive mentalitiy about the chances of the NDP in the next election then fine but I simply do not understand the reason for the opposition to a positive mentality. I think members want a leader who is positive about the chances of the party and I think prospective members both young and old want to join a party that is optimistic about its future chances.

non sequitur


I think Hunter is trying to suggest that your sole fascination with memberships, whilst important, is not what leads to electoral success - on its own.

Excitement around politics takes shape when a leader takes bold positions and buttresses same with sound communication.  Barack Obama didn't develop his machine merely by meeting with people.  He took a gutsy stand - opposing the war in Iraq.  That position led young people to gravitate towards him.

Meetings are great - but in order to excite people, Dwain must answer why he is running for leader.  Suggesting that he is running to stop Brad Wall is essentially like saying "I'm running for the NDP because I'm a New Democrat".  Circular reasoning.

Dwain needs at least one issue to excite people. 

BTW, changing gears on this discussion - a rumour is now circulating that Deb Higgins might not be interested in running.  Does this mean and official coronation?


Non sequitur, I completely agree that Link or any candidate needs an issue or a few key issues to get people excited. My personal focus is on organzing so that is why I focus most of my attention towards that side well others may go for policy.

I would hope that rumour is completely false. I do not think a coronation would be in anybodys interest. Though still talk of Pedersen, Wiebe, Thomson and a few others so I still think we could see a race at some point.

hunter s

The last thing the party needs is a coronation. A competitive leadership race is the best way to generate memberships, interest and media.

That said, things are not looking good. Link's been out for two months now and not so much as a peep from anyone. I think the fact that no one from our elected caucus has the gumption to take on someone who, although admittedly talented, has been away from politics for ten years and is closing in on 60, says a lot about our current caucus.

I guess the fact that they have known Calvert is leaving for months and still can't organize themselves to make a bid two months after he is gone pretty much shows none of them are up to the job, anyhow.

If what I have heard about Link is true, that he doesn't tolerate complacency, if he does become leader more than a few of the NDP MLAs may soon be shown the door. The ironic thing about it all is some of the caucus members currently supporting Link's leadership bid may be the first to be given their walking papers.


Malcolm Malcolm's picture

Okay Hunter, it seems you and I are on adjoining pages at least.


I do think Link has more rural cred than any other major name in the party in the past 10 years - with the arguable exception of Nettie Wiebe.


But what does that mean practically.


I don't think it would make much sense (at least right now) for Link to pledge to run in a rural seat at the next general election.  That said, a quick appointment to something (Senator Huyghebaert?) and it would put a lot of pressure on Link to run in a byelection in (more or less) his former constituency, even though that seat is now a long shot.


The weakness of progressives in rural areas has been touched on by Hunter.  The kinds of rural voters who tended to support progressive populism are far less common these days since the family farm has largely been replaced by the corproate farm, even if the corporate farm is family owned.  In fact, even in our better rural seats, the results look pretty distressing if you factor out the towns, where the retired farmers have gravitated.


The Harrowing of the Caucus could only be a good thing.  And there's more than the odd caucus member who agrees.

hunter s

I don't doubt that Link is taking the right approach in rural and his hard work will not go unnoticed. This is a grass roots party and people expected it to be treated as such.

A more grass roots approach was what ensured Calvert's victory in the leadership in 2001 and his electoral victory in 2003. In this election the party made several gains in rural seats and although it did not win, it was very competiitve in Lloydminster, Humboldt, Weyburn and Carrot River Valley. It also won back North Battleford and Sask Rivers and retained Meadow Lake and Yorkton by larger margins than in 1999.

However, as we all know, aside from North Battelford, these marginal gains all slipped back in 2007.

I don't doubt the party has done a poor job in terms of reaching out to rural constituencies and candidate recruitment. However, I am just not sure what the NDP could have done differently in terms of rural policy, as a government, without being completely irresponsible.

It also annoys me to see the Sask Party on a daily basis doing nothing for livestock producers and no one out there says a word. Likewise, it is almost laughable that the Sask Party has completely broken all of their promises on education property tax reductions and yet SARM continues to praise them as a great government.

I am even further perplexed why people in rural vote in the likes of Ritz, Anderson, Vellacott, Breitkreuz, Lukiwski, et al, who show no respect for the democratic process and then turn their backs on the likes of Nettie Wiebe who would have been a damn great MP and brings more cred on rural issues than all of those guys put together.

Anyhow, in terms of Link, I think he is motivated by one thing and one thing only and that is the fact that he can make Sask history by beating Wall in 2011 and in the process denying the Sask Party a second term - possibly even destroying this party once and for all.

And I don't doubt he is not right. If we are organized, focused and motivated in the next election, we should be able to whip the Saskies at most turns as they are not even a real political party, as far as I am concerned, built around this phoney image of Wall.

Wall can laugh now all he wants but you can bet those guys are dreading facing Link in the Leg.

That said, I know we will get back into government sooner or later but I would just like to see us have more social democratic goals once we get there next time around. Governing for its own sake is vacuous, particularly if you are calling yourself a social democratic party.

Malcolm Malcolm's picture

Part of the complacency in the party is rooted in the touching conviction that "we will get back into government sooner or later."


Sure, we are the "natural governing party."  But so were the Saskatchewan Liberals in 1944.  They continued to be the second party in the province until the late 70s.  But 70 years of dominance hasn't done shite for them since.


My big concern about the lack of focus on policy renewal is that it gives the Liberals an opening.

hunter s

Fair enough Malcolm, I do agree with you that what is today may soon change tomorrow and New Democrats are as guilty as any other political party for becoming complacent and relying too much on "safe" NDP seats in the cities.

However, that said, I don't think we have to worry about the provincial Libs making a comeback anytime soon. They couldn't even organize themselves to send out an email advising the media that they had cancelled their conveniton this fall. Further, they have a no name leader who will be a greater failure than Karwacki could ever be, even on his worst day. Even if the provincial Libs wanted to, they will not be able to run anything close to a provincial or even a real campaign in 2011.

The challenge for the NDP will be putting forward a social democratic platform but also realizing there will be a certain percentage of Liberal voters who will be looking for a home but can't stomach the Sask Party.

As a matter of fact, I think we would be wise to be talking to some of their formal federal and provincial candidates as they have, from time to time run strong candidates, that are left of centre, but simply could not escape the burden of the Liberal brand.

Malcolm Malcolm's picture

As with oppositions and governments, so also with oppositions and third parties. 


In general, governments defeat themselves.  The opposition party is merely the beneficiary.  


Similarly, when a party is overtaken as one of the major parties, it usually has more to do with the displaced party's baggage than the replacement party's organizational efficacy.  Organizational efficacy is how the replacement party consolidates itself as the replacement, not how it becomes the replacement.


As we saw in the previous Quebec election, the feckless ADQ were able to displace the even more feckless Pequistes.  Lucky for the PQ, they got their groove back while the ADQ imploded.


But if the Sask NDP were to implode leading up to 2011, recovery is not guaranteed.  Indeed, our new provincial secretary is part of the brain rust that got us into out present feckless state.  I am not brimming with confidence she'll perform any better in this job.


Remember that as screwed up as the provincial Liberals are, they have a number of well placed federal cousins - federal cousins who might move into place if they smelled an opportunity.


No, I don't think there is an imminent danger of the Liberals supplanting the NDP, but it distresses me when I hear folk talking as though nothing can stand in the way of our entitlement to power.  (Which overstates what you were doing, but you see my point.

hunter s

Well, it's Jan. 1 and I say if no other contender is out by the 15th it's, unfortunately, going to be a coronation for Link.

Malcolm Malcolm's picture

Convention is early June.  I agree that any new contenders need to get moving, but I think your Jan 15 is arbitrarily short.

hunter s

I agree that June is a long way off and that it is still very possible that someone could announce any time in the next few months and still win the thing.

As well, it is not like the Link team has done anything that amazing and they are more than beatable. However, if someone is serious I just can't understand why they would not have declared by the end of this month. If they are not organized and ready by the end of the month, I am not sure if they are ever going to be and it is definitely not a job you should apply for unless you are 100 per cent serious.


hunter s wrote:
The party doesn't just need to reach out to former members, it desparately needs NEW and YOUNGER members if it is to be successful. The only way to do that is through IDEAS.

Your strategy is, "vote for me because I have been successful in the past." That might work for you but it will not work for anyone who has never been involved but may be thinking of getting involved in the party.

Exactly. Once a particular party has been in power for a long time, people begin to sense that it's "time for a change," and that is exactly what happened in Saskatchewan this last provincial election. Many people who would have voted for the first time had no memory of there being any government other than NDP. Appealing to experience is the wrong approach when people are looking for fresh ideas, and will just remind people why they thought the NDP were past their "best before" date in 2007. What kind of boneheaded thinking was behind those NDP ads telling people "no, we don't need change?" If this thinking persists, and with little apparent interest in the leadership, it looks like the NDP will take a long time getting back to government, if at all.


It is good for any political party to rejuvenate.  It would be great if a leadership contest produced new ideas and large numbers of young members.  

 However, I don't think for a minute that it is impossible for the Saskatchewan Party to lose the next election.  It is a long time until that election and the world (including Saskatchewan) is in an uncertain economic climate.  There are a host of economic scenarios that could lead to major problems for any government, Saskatchewan Party, or otherwise.  Governments defeat themselves far more often than by a new party rejuvenated with new ideas.  

It is also difficult for any government to stay in power for 15 years or more in Saskatchewan (or many other provinces as well - Alberta is the exception, not the rule) without being ousted with the "change" strategy of an opposing party.  It is not easy to counter that sort of strategy (I know, from experience, both using it and having it used against my candidate/party). Whatever strategy the provincial NDP used in that election to counteract the "change" message, I'm not certain that any better one was available.

I recall the 1986 election.  The party was not rejuvenated with a lot of young members and new ideas at that time.  I remember organizing for the NDP from 1984-1986 in one riding in Saskatoon.  It was not new ideas or a large increase in youth memberships that won that election for the party in that riding.  It was hard work, mainly by long time members of the party.  We conducted a pre-election canvas in Saskatoon (and in other parts of the province - I was not the only person I know who went farm to farm near their home town) in the fall of 1984 and spring of 1985 that in no small part led to the close election of 1986.  If it weren't for the $1 billion bailout of Mulroney in the closing stages of the election, there would have been a one-term Conservative government.  And, after the debacle of 1982, there were few people who thought that Blakeney could lead the NDP back into power in 1986 (he didn't but it was ever so close).

Malcolm Malcolm's picture

I agree, Northern54, that the 2011 election is notionally winnable.  However, as you say, governments defeat themselves and it is incredibly rare for a government to do so that quickly.


Personally, I think the greatest danger to the SaskNDP right now isn't a despairing sense that the next election isn't winnable, but rather a completely unjustified complacency that it is well within reach.