Saskatchewan Party

From Academic Kids

The Saskatchewan Party is a conservative political party in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. The party was established in 1997 by a coalition of former Progressive Conservative and Liberal members and supporters who sought to remove the New Democratic Party from power. Today, the Saskatchewan Party serves as the province's Official Opposition, holding 26 of the province's 58 seats in the Legislative Assembly in Regina.

The Saskatchewan Party was a first unofficial trial of would-be provincial Reform parties. In 1996, federal leaders of the Reform Party had plans to expand their base into provincial politics. The collapse of the Saskatchewan Progressive Conservative party following numerous scandals and fraud charges from the late 1980s led to the perfect opening in Saskatchewan for a right-of-centre party.

The Saskatchewan Party caucus is made up almost entirely of right-leaning politicians. While some of the original Liberal MLAs are still members of the caucus, the majority have roots in the Progressive Conservative, Reform, Alliance and Conservative parties of Saskatchewan and Canada.

During the Saskatchewan general election, 2003, the Saskatchewan Party campaigned on a platform of tax reduction and decreased government involvement in the private sector. However, they lost, 28 seats to 30, to the NDP.

The party was hounded by voters who accused the party of a plan to privatize the province's crown corporations, which various members had stated they were willing to do over the years since the party formed. The leader, Elwin Hermanson, was put on the defensive, stating he would not sell the four largest crown corporations to private business. It was rumoured Preston Manning, the former leader of the Reform Party, had been hired by Elwin Hermanson to develop a transition team for government takeover, likely to implement the Saskatchewan Party's platform plank of a Core Services Review, similar to what took place in British Columbia where the civil service was downsized substantially.

The party's current leader is Brad Wall. He was appointed on March 15, 2004, after being the only declared candidate. Other caucus members who expressed interest in running include Jason Dearborne, Allan Kerpan, a former Reform MP, and Ken Cheveldayoff, a Saskatoon-based MLA who at one time was the President of the Young Progressive Conservatives of Saskatchewan.

Mr. Wall is seen by some as a more moderate leader than Elwin Hermanson, although his roots are in the Progressive Conservative Party of Grant Devine. Brad was employed in cabinet minister John Gerich's office prior to Gerich's conviction in the Devine scandal that led to the Devine government's defeat in 1991. Brad had run in 1991 for the PC nomination in his hometown of Swift Current, but was unsuccessful in contesting the nomination.

In 2004, the Sask. Party had attacked the provincial NDP lead government over a bad investment named SpudCo. The party requested a public inquiry, despite the fact that all the documents were already publicly availible, and no one, not even the Sask. Party itself had requested to review them.

The Saskatchewan Party also started in 2004 to spin itself as a kinder, gentler version of itself. While the core policies of the Party have not substantially changed, the Saskatchewan Party has attempted to win over skeptical left of centre voters with more emphasis on social issues. The entire Saskatchewan Party caucus voted in favour of the NDP's Crown Corporations Public Ownership Act, which entrenches the ownership of the major crown utilities and services under legislation.

The Saskatchewan Party has had difficulty in shaking its right-wing image, however, in the face of opposition to some of its policies. Its agriculture policy, for example, is based on market-choice in the Canadian Wheat Board, a policy held by the Progressive Conservatives of Alberta. The Saskatchewan Party still rejects the notion of public investment in the economy, as does it reject government regulation of business.

While not officially aligned with any federal political party, most of its supporters are with the Conservative Party of Canada, and that could be considered its federal counterpart. Brad Wall, in the 2004 federal election, personally endorsed Conservative David L. Anderson, Member of Parliament for Cypress Hills - Grasslands. Also, the former leader Hermanson was a federal member of the Reform and Canadian Alliance parties.

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