Sunday, October 7, 2007

Saskatchewan Needs Change, Not "A" Change

When the Premier has lunch at the U of R to chat with students, an election call must be near. I hope there were many who took the opportunity to speak with him. I did not attend the lunch, but I did make a point of stopping in at the tail's end of the event to see what was going on. I was slightly surprised to see Premier Calvert talking with a few students in a very casual manner. He showed a great sense of humour and sincerely engaged in conversation with the students. His experience as Premier does show. He managed to stay on message, to be personable, and to be open to critique.

I plan on doing some public speaking during the upcoming provincial election. I am hoping to encourage people, especially youth, to use their right to vote. I was able to ask the Premier for an important message that I could speak about that he would like to share with the public. He was more than willing to answer, and he encouraged my public speaking as an effective method of increasing young voter turnout. In addition to increasing the youth vote, I am also hoping to encourage voters to be informed voters. I would like to lessen the media's control of the election agenda by raising real issues. I want to create change.

One important point Premier Calvert raised in discussion is that he recognizes change is very necessary for society. However, he said that change just for the sake of change is not always good. "A" change doesn't necessarily mean a change for the better. I commend the Premier for recognizing the need for change. The type of real change needed in this province is not one that will be fixed by a Sask Party government. Will the Saskatchewan Party address poverty? Their leader's background does not convince me that poverty will be high on the agenda.

After earning his degree at the University of Saskatchewan, Brad Wall moved to Ottawa and worked for a backbench M.P. in Brian Mulroney's PC government. Upon returning to Saskatchewan, Wall worked as a ministerial assistant during the final years of the Grant Devine Tory government. He ran and lost as the conservative candidate for Swift Current MLA in the 1991 provincial election. When the Saskatchewan Party formed in 1997, Wall was Director of Business Development for the city of Swift Current. He ran for the Sask Party in the 1999 provincial election, and he won the Swift Current riding. As MLA, he served as the Sask Party's Justice Critic and was later appointed as Critic of the Crown Corporations. Brad Wall was re-elected in 2003, and he became leader of the Saskatchewan Party in 2004.

I do not feel confident in electing a Premier who once worked for both Brian Mulroney and Grant Devine. I don't think ending poverty is a priority of a former Director of Business Development. I do not think the Sask Party will do a better job than the NDP has. I am not agreeing with what the NDP government has done and would do if elected again, but they are closer than the Sask Party is to being able to achieve government change that benefits society as a whole.

The Green Party of Saskatchewan has the best action plan for reducing poverty. Their platform statement on poverty actually calls for REAL action, much more than the NDP's minimum wage increase will do. It is unfortunate that our "first past the post" electoral system does not allow the Greens to win a voice in the legislature. Our current system allows many Canadian elections to be won by parties who received less than 50% of the votes cast. It only matters that they have the most votes over the other parties. There may be more votes cast against them than for them. Those who didn't vote for the winner do not matter at all; they are not represented in the government. Proportional Representation could change this. The Sask Green Party has an excellent position on the Saskatchewan Elections Act. They favour proportional representation and other changes to the act to make elections more democratic and fair.

But until a system of proportional representation can be achieved (if ever), the reality is one of two outcomes in the provincial election: NDP or Sask Party. The recent announcement of the NDP's planned increase in the minimum wage will enable a full time minimum wage worker to meet the poverty line. This is a step, albeit a small step.

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