Tuesdays with Murney: Only a ‘dramatic’ economic change would affect support for Sask. Party


John Murney
Guest Blogger

It's past the midpoint of 2012 and the Saskatchewan political year. This is the time of year when our provincial politicians fan out across the province to attend public events of all kinds, just so they can be seen “at work” by their constituents. Now is also a great time to assess where we are in Saskatchewan, where we have been recently, and where we are probably headed next.

We had a provincial election last fall, and since then, the Wall Government has tabled a budget of some controversy and the provincial cabinet has undergone a major shuffle. The Saskatchewan NDP is preparing for a leadership convention to be held this coming March. And there are signs of life from one of the smaller provincial parties.

For the remaining months of 2012, we are very likely to see more action from Premier Wall. As of late, the Premier has gotten a lot of national news coverage on issues that affect the Western provinces like the Alberta Oilsands. This is likely to continue, as Saskatchewan’s energy and potash sectors continue to generate new economic activity. And as long as the provincial economy continues to post positive statistics, the Premier’s honeymoon with voters is also likely to continue.

Four names are consistently mentioned as contestants in the upcoming provincial NDP leadership race. MLAs Trent Wotherspoon and Cam Broten, past leadership candidate Ryan Meili and Steelworkers Economist Erin Weir are all mentioned as very likely leadership contenders. But with the party’s polling numbers lower than a snake’s bellybutton these days, it will be curious to see if the leadership race generates any excitement beyond those who are already active in the NDP.

A newer face gained a bit of attention earlier this month. Saskatchewan Green Party Leader Victor Lau was one of the speakers a few weeks ago at the Death of Evidence rally on the Academic Green at the University of Regina. As of the last provincial election, the Greens have risen to third place in Saskatchewan politics, behind the Saskatchewan Party and the NDP. Victor speaks very well, and he is a refreshing voice in what is becoming a stale political culture. Perhaps we will hear more from Victor in the near future.

As for the overall political landscape in Saskatchewan, opposition is now starting to build against the Wall Government. Things like the end of the film tax credit program are very unpopular among younger voters. But opposition to the government is not gathering around any of the opposition parties yet, and that opposition is not large enough yet to threaten the Wall Government’s hold on power. Therefore I think conditions will remain as they are for at least next six to eight months, and maybe even longer. Only a dramatic change in the provincial economy would cause a dramatic change in provincial voting patterns at the present time.

Tuesdays with Murney focuses on Saskatchewan politics. John Murney is a veteran political analyst. Murney, who was a broadcast journalist for over 13 years, has three degress: BA in economics, BA in classical and medieval studies and MA in economics.

For more of his work, visit http://jmurney.blogspot.ca/