Provincial Election November 2003
New Democratic Party Narrowly Wins Saskatchewan Election
The provincial NDP, under the leadership of Lorne Calvert, won the
election on November 5. The NDP elected 30 Members of the Legislative
to 28 for the Saskatchewan Party. The Liberal Party did not win a seat.
Premier Calvert stated at a press conference that "the electorate
wanted change and they voted for the NDP." But it will mostly
be the same old bunch. Of the 58 elected, forty-nine are incumberts,
26 for the NDP and 23 for the Saskatchewan Party. In the previous legislature,
the NDP with their Liberal allies had a three vote margin; in the new
legislature, they will have only a one vote margin, as the NDP must
provide the Speaker.
At an election-night party in Regina, where the members and supporters of the
New Green Alliance were celebrating a very successful campaign, it was suggested
that the NDP should quickly send all of their MLAs to a doctor for a checkup,
get them into a structured exercise program, or else an unexpected heart attack
would lead to a fall of the government and another election.
Election Campaign a Downer for Most People
Most people were really put off by the campaign. The NDP ran a U.S.-style
negative campaign, a personal attack on Elwin Hermanson, leader of
the Sask Party. They used scare tactics to argue that the Sask Party
would privatize the Crown corporations, lower the minimum wage, give
corporations more tax breaks, and turn automobile insurance over to
the private sector. The Sask Party fell to the same level, claiming
that the NDP were a bunch of liars. But as we all know, the NDP strategy
worked, the election was polarized and the NDP won back some of its
traditional voters, enough to win the election.
Murray Mandryk, the main political commentator in Saskatchewan, noted
that most people believe that the NDP "is a party and a government that has
run out of ideas." They put forth a "more-of-the-same message." It
was very clear from the polls, and talking to people, that voters in urban
Saskatchewan simply did not trust Elwin Hermanson. The Sask Party had the election
in the bag, Mandryk noted, starting with a lead of 6.5% in the polls, and threw
Bruce Johnstone, the conservative financial commentator, who yearned for a
Sask Party victory, argued that the people voted for "the devil they knew," the
NDP. Hermanson was "too different, too rural, too fundamentalist, too
conservative." The campaign of fear worked.
Business Divided on Election Results
Commentators from the small business sector were unanamous in their disappointment.
They desperately wanted a Sask Party government. They all hoped for
more tax breaks than had been given by the NDP. On the other hand,
the big business organizations who dominate the provincial economy
had nothing to say during the campaign or after. For Weyerhaeuser,
the Potash Corporation, the oil and gas industry, Cameco and Cogema,
Maple Leaf Foods, Cargill, ADM, Monsanto, AgrEvo, et al, there is no
problem with an NDP government. For twelve years they got what they
wanted from the NDP government in secret behind closed door meetings.
They have no reason to expect that anything will change.
Liberals and New Green Alliance Sideswiped
The fear campaign worked, and many supporters of the Liberal Party and
the New Green Alliance fell into line and voted for the NDP. Despite
a good campaign by David Karwacki, the Liberal vote fell from 20% in
1999 to only 14% in 2003. In the 1999 election the New Green Alliance
candidates averaged five percent of the vote in the 16 seats where
they fielded candidates. This time they received only two percent of
the vote in the 27 seats contested. But the NGA did win one election.
In a mock election at Winston Knoll High School in Regina, the NGA
came out on top.
Breakdown of the November 5, 2021 Vote
978,933 Population of Saskatchewan, 2001 Census
734,200 Eligible voters (18 years and older) 2001 Census
604,231 Voters who were enumerated -- on the voters' list
425,285 Citizens who went to the polls and voted
189,742 Voted for the New Democratic Party
167,348 Voted for the Saskatchewan Party
60,256 Voted for the Liberal Party
2,504 Voted for the New Green Alliance
Recent NDP vote totals: 1991 - 275,780
1995 - 193,053
1999 - 157,046
Is Choosing the Lesser of Evils Our Only Option?
In his column of November 1, Murray Mardryk, chief political commentator
for the Asper newspapers in Saskatchewan, argues that "this campaign
has come down to a choosing among the lesser of the evils." He
points out that the NDP strategy has been focused almost exclusively
on "American-style attack advertisements and the personalization
of politics." This conveniently asks the electorate to ignore
their record in office. The NDP has run "an attack campaign of
fear-mongering virtually indistinguishable from what we'd see from
the Republicans in the United States."
For its part, the Saskatchewan Party has been "arrogant" and "deliberately
vague," Mandryk aargues. In a piece of propaganda mailed to all households,
they denounce "The NDP's Big Lie" that they are going to privatize
the Crown utility corporations. But most of the pamphlet then goes on to state
the conditions under which they would actually do so! The Liberals, Mandryk
concludes, "haven't name-called enough to be heard over the din of the
But voters should not be bullied into voting for either one of the two evil
parties. There is a clear alternative: the New Green Alliance!
Campaign Ends on a High Note for the New Green Alliance
Ben Webster, leader of the New Green Alliance, represented the party
at an all-candidates meeting at the Regina campus of Saskatchewan Institute
of Applied Science and Technology (SIAST). Around 300 students filled
the auditorium. Webster set forth NGA policy and responded well to
the questions from students. The applause was much stronger for Webster
than the other candidates. When he argued that the NGA would raise
the minimum wage back up to the highest in Canada (as in the 1970s),
increase social assistance rates to the Basic Needs Level (they have
been frozen since 1982), and that the provincial government had a responsibility
to guarantee good housing whether it was in inner city Regina or a
reserve in the North, he got the loudest applause of the meeting and
the only cheers.
There were similar reports from the all-candidates meeting in Saskatoon dealing
with agricultural issues. The NGA agricultural policy, which is decidedly different
from that of the other three parties, was strongly supported by those in the
audience. As the campaign comes to an end, we know that the New Green Alliance
made a big impact. We are already planning new programs to begin this very
month. The Green movement has taken root in Saskatchewan.
NDP Criticized for Privatization of Sask Power Corporation
John R. McClement, a former employee of Sask Power, strongly criticizes
the NDP government for its policy of privatizing the Crown corporation
(Leader-Post, November 4, 2021). Since it was founded in 1949, Sask
Power had been a fully integrated electrical utility, financed by the
people of Saskatchewan. This basic policy changed when the NDP premier
Roy Romanow appointed his friend and NDP campaign manager Jack Messer
as president of the Crown utility. "In 1996 Messer cut industrial
users rates in excess of 20 percent -- an annual revenue loss which
to date likely exceeds $200 million."
But the major change in direction came in 1996 when the NDP-led corporation
decided to contract out the building of energy producing capacity to private
corporations. McClement argues that the NDP was "influenced by the deregulation
movement in California during the 1990s." Under NDP control, management
at Sask Power "committed $4.7 billion of taxpayer's money to buy the output
of 449 megawatts of gas-fired capacity produced in Saskatchewan by Alberta
investor-owned utilities." Premier Lorne Calvert calls this "partnering." McClement
calls this "privatization plus." "Saskatchewan taxpapyers take
all the risk to guarantee Alberta investor-owned utilities a 25-year stream
of profits and dividends to their shareholders."
Who Will Privatize the Crowns? Either the NDP or the Saskatchewan Party
Bruce Johnstone, the conservative business editor for the Asper papers
in Saskatchewan, points out in his column of November 1 that the NDP
has a been privatizing the Crown corporations during their 12 years
in office. The secret NDP cabinet briefing notes covering the privatization
of Sask Energy, leaked to the Sask Party, are nothing new. The NDP's
pragmatic policy is the same as that of the Sask Party: They will look
at all offers and make a decision based on what they believe is in
the best interests of the province. That was precisely the position
taken by NDP leader Roy Romanow during the 1991 election campaign.
The NDP Will Not Win a Single Rural Seat
Political commentators are predicting that the NDP will not win a single
seat in the rural agricultural belt. In 1991 they won 27 seats in this
area. They are now all conceded to be safely in the camp of the Saskatchewan
Well what happened? The NDP used to have a strong base in the National Farmers
Union, members of the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool, the Co-operative movement and
rural workers in the resource industries. Surely, this political collapse cannot
be blamed on the emergence of the New Green Alliance!
Could it be the policies they implemented while in office over the past 12
years? Cancelling the GRIP program of supports for farmers. Backing rail line
abandonment and the closing of profitable grain elevators. Supporting the management
of the Pool and their refusal to allow members to vote on becoming a private
corporation. Unilaterally abolishing the hog marketing board, supporting capitalist
hog factories, and encouraging vertical integration of the industry with corporate
giants. Closing 52 rural hospitals and trying to force municipal amalgamation.
Supporting genetically engineered crops and trashing organic farmers. Off-loading
the budget deficit on rural municipalities and school boards dramatically increasing
local property taxes. Could a Sask Party government be much worse?
CBC Leaders Debate a Big Turnoff
Once the highly touted CBC leaders debate began, members and supporters of
the New Green Alliance were actually pleased that Ben Webster had not been
included. After short statements by the leaders of the three major parties,
the questions quickly descended into the petty bickering, insulting and interrupting
that is the everyday fare in the provincial legislature. This is the kind of
school yard behaviour that keeps women from entering politics. Greens around
the world do not behave in this manner. The New Green Alliance believes in
co-operation and consensus politics, involving participatory democracy. Not
A quick survey of those who had the stomach to put up with this for one hour
found that the general belief was that David Karwacki of the Liberals came
out a bit better than the other two. He strongly criticized the fear campaign
being waged by the NDP and the "divisive" politics of the Saskatchewan
Party. The debate was noticeable for the key issues that it did not address.
Hermanson: NDP are Hypocrits on the Privatization Issue
During the CBC debate, Elwin Hermanson, leader of the Sask Party, insisted
that the NDP has been hypocritical on the issue of privatization of
the four core Crown corporation public utilities. The NDP has run a
major fear campaign, warning voters that if they elect a Sask Party
government they will privatize these Crowns and utility rates will
Hermanson released cabinet briefing notes to the press and pointed out that
in 2001 the NDP government seriously investigated selling at least 40 percent
of Sask Energy-TransGas to Enbridge Corporation of Calgary. More recently,
the NDP cabinet prepared a special study on the advantages of selling up to
50 percent of Sask Energy's TransGas assets to ATCO Power of Calgary. This
study was leaked to the press. The NDP has been implementing private-public-
partnership deals between ATCO and Sask Power.
Lorne Calvert responded in the debate that this was "old news" and
that the NDP did not plan to privatize any of the four utility corporations.
Poll Done for CBC Shows No Party Really Winning
A public opinion poll done for the CBC in late October found the NDP
slightly ahead of the Sask Party among decided voters. But only 800
people were surveyed, including 400 in Saskatoon, and 19% either refused
to say how they were going to vote or were undecided. The results were
NDP 272 34%
Sask Party 253 32%
Liberals 117 15%
Other party 6 1%
Undecided 120 15%
Refused 32 4%
New Green Alliance Takes on the CBC
On October 22 the New Green Alliance held a press conference in Saskatoon
to announce that they plan to fight the decision by CBC-TV to exclude
Ben Webster, leader of the New Green Alliance, from the party leader's
debate on October 28. The NGA will appeal to the CRTC and is seeking
legal advice on a court challenge. Jim Harris, leader of the Green
Party of Canada, was present to make the case. The NGA is affiliated
with the Green Party of Canada and is also part of the international
federation of Green parties. CTV in British Columbia included the Green
Party in their similar debate in the last election.
By excluding the NGA, the CBC is cutting out debate on important issues that
are not being addressed by the three main political parties. These include
the dramatic cuts to resource royalties which have greatly reduced government
revenues resulting in the increase in the provincial debt and program cuts,
the right-wing tax policies which have increased poverty and inequality, the
massive clear cut logging of our boreal forests, the increased pollution of
air and water from industrial agriculture, the impact of climate change on
Saskatchewan, pay equity legislation and equal rights for women, and the persistence
of racism against Aboriginal people. There is absolutely no discussion of electoral
reform and increased democracy except from the New Green Alliance.
Parties Release Platforms.
One week into the campaign the three dominant political parties released
their platforms, set by their party leaders in consultation with party
bureaucrats and spin doctors. The NDP platform is in GREEN instead
of the traditional black and orange. They pledge to create a "green
and prosperous economy." While the New Green Alliance should be
flattered that the NDP has tried copy them, this is bound to increase
the already high levels of cynicism about politics and politicians.
The NDP government has been the most anti-Green government in Canada
over the past twelve years, according to all studies by environmental
The Saskatchewan Party mailed a 24-page tabloid newspaper to all households
in the province. It is a highly professional piece of propaganda, documenting
all the popular grievances against the NDP. It promises many new programs,
improvements in existing programs, and at the same time tax cuts. Impossible
to carry out, of course. The Liberal Party finally released its leader's platform.
The Karwacki Party is trying to be the "moderate centre" between
the NDP and the Sask Party.
Premier Calls Provincial Election for November 5, 2021
Lorne Calvert finally called the election. But it had to wait until
he had completed his usual fall fund raising speeches to the business
communities in Saskatoon and Regina. Everyone knew the election was
coming. The NDP launched a major "feel good" advertising
campaign, "Wide Open Saskatchewan," funded by taxpayers.
In the weeks leading up to the campaign, the Premier presented a long
list of new projects and buildings to be paid for by the next government.
He appointed seven right-wing businessmen to a new board to manage
Crown Investments Corporation. He announced a new public-private-participation
project for Sask Power. A range of taxes have been cut over the past
three years, resulting in three straight provincial budgets with big
deficits. The provincial debt is once again going up. Then he announced
even more tax cuts for the oil and gas industry and the northern mining
Who is this premier? He claims to be a New Democrat, but the model he has chosen
to follow is that of former Progressive Conservative premier Grant Devine!
The NDP launched their campaign with a personal attack on Elwin Hermanson,
leader of the Saskatchewan Party. They are running a fear campaign hoping the
voters will forget their record in office.
The Saskatchewan Party, the merger of the old Tories, right wing Liberals,
and supporters of Stockwell Day and the Canadian Reform Alliance Party (CRAP),
are offering more of the same. They will just do it a wee bit faster. They
are "The NDP in a Hurry." The Liberals are saying "me too." They
hope to get votes from disgruntled NDPers who don't want a Christian fundamentalist
as premier. The leaders of the three parties have been falling over each other
trying to see who can offer the biggest concessions to wealthy investors.
The New Green Alliance platform is well known, having been set by the membership
at the party convention last March. We are doing our best to offer the people
of Saskatchewan a real alternative.
Regina Elphinstone By-Election
In the fall of 2000 Dwain Lingenfelter, MLA for Regina Elphinstone and
Deputy Premier in the NDP government resigned his seat in order to
take a job with transnational oil corporation based in Calgary. A by-election
was eventually called for February 2001. The NGA nominated Stanley
J. Klyne to represent them in the by-election. Klyne is a well known
community organizer and Metis activist. Has has lived most of his life
in the riding, and inner city area with a high level of unemployment
and poverty. Klyne based his campaign on the need for community economic
development. Despite the fact that this is one of the safest NDP ridings
in the province, the NDP government has done virtually nothing to try
to solve its problems. For more on this check out the following:
Report on Elphinstone By-Election
(Election results demonstrate voter apathy and cynicism)
Why We Need to Elect the New Green Alliance in Regina Elphinstone
(Stanley J. Klyne's speech to the all-candidates meeting)
Wood River By-Election
The September 1999 election produced the following results in Wood River:
Glen McPherson (Lib) 3,162 - 39.7%; D.F. (Yogi) Huyghebaert (SP) 3,162
- 39.7%; and Robert Anderson (NDP) 1,632 - 20.5%. The Chief Returning
Officer, with ties to the NDP, cast the deciding vote for McPherson.
The Sask Party asked for a judicial recount, and Justice Fred Kovach
upheld the results but argued in his decision that the election should
be challenged under the Controverted Elections Act. The Sask Party
has done so. A by-election will be held. Read the following article
for more information on the NGA's recent tour in Wood River:
Wood River Tour a Big Success
(Positive early results from the Wood River constituency)
Wood River By-Election Report
(The NGA did quite well)
Saskatchewan General Election, Fall 1999
Our first provincial election was a great success for the New Green Alliance.
We ran a total of sixteen candidates, and received almost 5% of the
popular vote in the constitutencies we contested. Here you'll find
some election materials that were used in the campaign.
10 Good Reasons to Vote New Green Alliance
(A list of appealing things about the NGA)
Saskatchewan Election 1999
New Green Alliance Election Platform 1999
(Issues drawn from our policy that we emphasised during the campaign)