Canada Mandryk: 2017 budget should make us leery of Sask. Party platform
Past leaders' debates haven't moved the dial much, and that's bad news for the NDP
In tonight's leaders' debate, the NDP's Ryan Meili is going to have to do something none of his predecessors have managed in the last few provincial elections — use it to move public opinion and shift the momentum before the Oct. 26 vote. The New Democrats need to see the numbers change over this last stage of the campaign. Two polls published over the last few days put Scott Moe's Saskatchewan Party ahead by between 19 and 22 percentage points among decided voters. That's a huge margin to overcome in just a couple weeks.
Saskatchewan, on Monday, recorded its highest number of daily new COVID-19 cases and the number of active cases climbed to a record 427 on Tuesday.
This comes at a time when the province’s(although it is the lowest among the provinces) and when a is pushing public debt to $24 billion.
This is hardly a stellar record for Scott Moe’s Saskatchewan Party government asking to be re-elected in five days, but there is validity in its argument that it has been a victim of circumstances it has handled rather well.
Mandryk: Devastating poll a bitter pill for Meili, NDP campaign
This morning’s Postmedia election opinion poll conducted in partnership with the Angus Reid Institute won’t tell you much that you didn’t already suspect about the pending outcome of the Oct. 26 Saskatchewan vote. Going into this campaign, those favouring the NDP were forewarned about the statistical impossibility of knocking off a 13-year Saskatchewan Party government that won a majority 31 seats by 2,500 votes or more in 2016. Today’s poll is once again a reminder of how bedrock solid that Saskatchewan Party base truly is.
Moe and the Sask. Party have repeatedly reminded us during this campaign that Saskatchewan’sare a disproportionately small fraction of total Canadian numbers that cracked 200,000 Monday. While all three prairie provinces set records this week for the most active COVID-19 cases, Manitoba has surpassed us both in active and total cases and Alberta has 10 times as many cases.
Consider this as one reason why the Postmedia/Angus Reid Institute— a
Nevertheless, the NDP still has at least one card to play: If there’s a reckoning for the Sask. Party on election night, it will be because of the 2017 budget that followed its last election campaign in 2016.
Poll shows demand for centre party, stronger opposition in Saskatchewan
Half of the respondents said an organization that fit politically between the Saskatchewan Party and New Democrats would be a welcome development. Yesterday @angusreidorg released a poll showing the @SaskParty has a 27-point lead over the @Sask_NDP. But half also said they would be in favour of a third party who is politically in the middle. And nearly 2/3 wants to see a stronger opposition #skpoli #decisionSK #saskvotes pic.twitter.
Public frustration with the Sask. Party government and that budget was such that the leaderless NDP pulled even in the opinion polls.
It all had to do with that year’s budget in which Kevin Doherty — arguably, the worst finance minister in recent Saskatchewan memory — slashed services and hiked takes yet still somehow managed to triple the deficit to $1.2 billion despite massive borrowing.
It was also a budget that saw theand one that should have provided the strategic blueprint for the NDP in this 2020 election. After all, there are now ugly similarities.
In the middle of this economic crisis, the Sask. Party 2020 platform saw fit to add $849 million in questionable spending. Now, it’s even
Yet the Sask. Party campaign has felt no compulsion to explain how it truly intends to hand out rebates on your SaskPower bill or hand out cash for you to build a new deck or for it to build new arenas or hospitals or schools without massive deficits, massive tax increases or massive cuts.
Mandryk: Meili's last week scramble underscores uphill battle
Where New Democrat Party Leader Ryan Meili is spending the final days of this 2020 election campaign is telling, but so is the group he seems to be addressing. Meili’s last-days messages have been squarely aimed at larger voting blocs that NDP strategists hope will boost popular votes on Oct. 26. That certainly could help in relatively close seats where those extra votes might make a difference. But any leader’s focus at this point of the campaign should be less about broad-based messaging than simply being in those close seats the party needs to win.
There again, four years ago the Sask. Party suffered little guilt over burdening the taxpayers with its 2016 vote-buying promises and then outright breaking those promises in 2017.
That budget eliminated the 44-year-old Saskatchewan Hearing Aid Plan that supported preschool children with cochlear implants. It hiked the PST to six per cent, dumped costs on school boards who saw funding reductions and on cities who lost their Crown grants-in-lieu.
Unfortunately for the NDP, its badly conceived 2020 campaign strategy has done little to allow it to capitalize on all this.
Sure, the NDP campaign has brought up things like the 2017 gutting of the hearing aid plan (that the Sask. Party 2020 platform now vows to restore) in its “reality checks”, but its criticism has largely lost credibility in the NDP’s own unchecked $2.1 billion in added spending.
And then came Monday when
The kindest thing one can say about the under-utilized, money-losing STC (which was shuttered in the 2017 budget) is that running empty buses across the province was a luxury we could no longer afford.
Less kind would be to say that of the embarrassment of riches offered up by Doherty in that abysmal 2017 budget, Meili and the NDP likely couldn’t have picked a worse issue as its centrepiece. STC’s demise has hardly created a public ripple — not even in rural Saskatchewan that it served.
That 2017 budget should be the NDP’s ace, but it’s playing its hand rather poorly.
Mandryk is the political columnist for the Regina Leader-Post and the Saskatoon StarPhoenix.
Mandryk: Get out and vote — don't make COVID-19 just another excuse .
One gets why there may be more incentive than usual to stay at home today and not vote. We are seven months into a pandemic and we’ve been told it’s our societal obligation to stay at home and avoid gathering in large groups. We have even been told not to to gather in large bunches to say goodbye to a loved one at a funeral or celebrate a wedding or birthday. And some may have legitimate reason to stay home. There are 619 active COVID-19 cases with 138 new Saskatchewan cases on the weekend. If you have symptoms that are disconcerting or are a person with health makes you vulnerable, maybe you do have to sit this one out.