Political change seems unlikely

When looking at the current political situation in both Saskatchewan, and Canada, a pair of veteran journalists in the province are not seeing a lot of change in the next few years.

Long-time columnist and Leader Post writer Murray Mandryk, and CJME news director Murray Wood were on a panel at the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce Conference held in Yorkton last week, and the duo said provincially the Saskatchewan Party appears headed to a fourth term.

“I think they’re (the Saskatchewan Party) in for another term. That’s what the polls tell me … my instincts tell me,” said Mandryk.

“I’d be amazed if the Saskatchewan Party didn’t win the next election … because the NDP are not seen as a viable option right now,” echoed Wood.

Mandryk said the Saskatchewan Party leadership which saw Scott Moe top the race, was a bit surprising based on how it rolled out in terms of “how divisive it was.”

That said, Mandryk added “political parties are families,” and after a decade there are going to be members of the family that aren’t on the same page as most. That creates debate which he said “is a good thing for a party as a whole,” since it reinvigorates things.

Wood said his surprise came in how much support Moe brought with him from the Sask Party Caucus.

Coming out of the leadership race the Saskatchewan Party is evolving away from its roots. Wood said the party may have been born out of the coming together of the Progressive Conservatives and Liberals, but that liberal core is gone.
“This is a conservative party now,” he said.

So does that open the door for a rebirth of a provincial liberal party, especially with the recent announcement Naveed Anwar has been acclaimed the party’s new leader?

Wood said he was doubtful.

“I have more followers on Twitter than the Saskatchewan Liberal Party,” he said, adding he is not himself an avid Twitter user either.

“I don’t know if they (the Saskatchewan Liberal Party) exist,” said Mandryk, adding he sees “no place for them on the political spectrum” in the province.

Mandryk said Saskatchewan tends to swing from left to right when changing governments and that leaves little room for the Liberals to re-establish in.

But what about the New Democrats making a push in the next election?

That push will depend largely on new leader Ryan Meili.

Mandryk said Meili appears to be taking the NDP further left in terms of policy than under the tenure of leaders Roy Romanow and Lorne Calvert, and that story is a harder one to balance with the broader voter.

The current landscape is likely to re-establish a split in terms of urban ridings and rural. The Saskatchewan Party seems generally entrenched in rural ridings, while the NDP are finding their strength in Regina and Saskatoon the panelists agreed.

“The Saskatchewan Party is challenged in the cities and they know it,” said Wood.

Federally, in Saskatchewan and Alberta Prime Minster Justin Trudeau may be seen as in a tailspin, but that doesn’t necessarily signal an impending change in government come the next federal election.

“I wouldn’t be surprised to see him re-elected,” said Wood.

The situation is that the federal Conservative Party under leader Andrew Scheer are appearing to make many inroads into Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes, he noted.

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