Sask NDP: Gone For Good
September 1st, 2012 - J. Hodgson
“Even more than a generation later, you can hardly believe that such an act could happen in a country belonging to the Western world. However, after so many years, we are not looking back in anger anymore.” - Norbert Steiner, CEO of K+S Group, June 2012
The above quote is in regards to a decision to reinvest in Saskatchewan potash after having their mines confiscated by Saskatchewan’s NDP government in the 1970’s. Apparently it takes roughly forty years to recover from socialist decisions. K+ S Group will be putting $3.25 billion into Saskatchewan over the next 3 to 5 years in the form of a new potash mining venture near Bethune, SK.
Norbert is correct. It is hard to believe just how leftist Saskatchewan was in the 1970’s. Things that people take for granted today were once up for debate in the 70’s and things that are up for debate today were then taken as a given. Nationalizing entire industries is no longer on anyone’s agenda, but in the 1970’s, Saskatchewan's government actually did such things.
Flash forward to today and the Saskatchewan Advantage under Brad Wall’s Saskatchewan Party government is slowly but surely undoing the legacy of the NDP. Private industry is thriving and welcomed – even championed – in the province that was the birth place of Canadian socialism. In the first 6 months of this year, Saskatchewan exported $16.035 billion worth of goods to customers outside of the province. British Columbia, a province with more than 4 times as many people, only managed to export $15.6 billion worth of goods. Saskatchewan has the only balanced budget in the country. The unemployment rate is hovering around 5% and Saskatchewan is thriving.
What’s that noise? Do you hear it in the background? Oh yes, that’s the Saskatchewan NDP groaning out their death throes in the wings of the legislative building. “These aren’t death throes,” they argue.
In the 2011 election, the NDP were crushed down to 9 seats from 20. They are leaderless. Their supporters are fading away. An insider told me that the party is on the verge of collapse. Where will the rebound come from? Who will drive the rebound if there is one?
History has shown that political parties do rebound when they are rooted in values that many people share, and ones dynamic enough to adapt to shifting patterns in cultural development. The NDP have been going through a 20 year transition in which the schism between the new left and the old left has become too wide a gap to bridge. The NDP in Saskatchewan are finished, because their transition from the old left has been too slow and the new left of the 21st century doesn’t reflect Saskatchewan values.
The old left was rooted in the Soviet-style notions of cooperation and state power. The farmer shaking hands with the iron worker would be the logo for this sort of leftist culture. Tommy Douglas had the common touch and his socialism, by way of the pulpit, appealed to a lot of people. This retarded Saskatchewan’s economic development and created a classical culture of envy that ruins both people and states.
The problem for Saskatchewan is that ever since the 1980’s the notion of old left dogma collapsed along with the Soviet Union. The new left took the same culture of envy, but reinvented it in the form of environmentalism, political correctness, and bourgeois liberalism. The new left wants the government to control our lives instead of our industries.
So the situation in Saskatchewan today is such that the old left has lost touch with the modern world and the new left isn’t electable because it doesn’t reflect mainstream values. This was apparent to me when the federal NDP was replacing Alexa McDonough back in 2003. The candidates vying for leadership held a meeting at the Centre of the Arts in Regina. All the candidates sat on stage while a few hundred NDP supporters tried to get the sense of who they wanted as the federal party leader. At one point, candidate Bev Meslo stood on stage and bragged about marching in a gay pride parade. The audience of old prairie socialists, union members and farmers stared blankly. Saskatchewan Premier, Lorne Calvert, sat in the back watching quietly…knowingly.
The new left is firmly in charge of the cultural movement now, but they don’t have the traction or infrastructure in a place like Saskatchewan to win elections. Old leftists are in charge of the infrastructure, but have many old fashioned views that the new left finds abhorrent.
For example, many old leftists would have no problem with drilling for oil, so long as the company doing the drilling was owned by the government and everyone working on the project was unionized. The new left views all industry as evil, because the environmental footprint trumps the civilization that industry brings.
Need more examples?
The old left views abortion as murder. The new left celebrates it as a human right. The old left has no problem with gun ownership. The new left wants guns banned. The old left wants to make the poor richer. The new left wants to make the rich poorer. Are these gross over-simplifications? Yes, they are, but they illustrate in broad strokes the dichotomy between left-wing generations in Saskatchewan.
The new left values are seen as bizarre by members of the old left. New left hipsters, as a result, aren’t welcome to the levers of power in the NDP party in Saskatchewan. Thus, as the old guard becomes more irrelevant in the modern world and the supporters literally die off, there’s no “passing the torch” to the new left, because the old left doesn’t want to give it to people they view as radical weirdos. The new left doesn’t see the value in having an antiquated party structure handed down to them anyway. They’d rather ‘Occupy’ and drink their Starbucks while surfing Rabble.
There is no end in sight for this gridlock and with a little luck Brad Wall will be able to secure a third term as Premier of Saskatchewan. A third term is the real key to successfully transforming Saskatchewan into a dynamic conservative environment once and for all. In the past, the socialist hordes might lose an election now and again, but they maintained the leftist culture and simply waited for a return to power.
The politically conservative victories of Ross Thatcher in the 60’s and Grant Devine in the 80’s were mere speed bumps to NDP cultural hegemony. The result was that conservative momentum could not be built and the leftist attitudes prevailed. We still see this in today’s Saskatchewan. Many people complain about the new boom being an illusion or being a bane to their day-to-day existence in the form of higher costs of living. People are still quick to wonder, “What’s the government going to do about this?” in regards to every problem that arises. Pick up a copy of the Prairie Dog or watch some local news and you can see that the culture of left-wing ideology permeates the air…waiting.
This is not to suggest that Brad Wall or the Saskatchewan Party should be beyond criticism. The stadium initiative in Regina is idiocy ripped from the pages of failed American policy from the 1980’s, and their “global warming” environmental spending is really just sad at this point. However, $3.25 billion in foreign investment is yet another cold hard fact of anti-NDP progress. Every time a success story like this unfolds we get closer to a permanent culture shift in Saskatchewan mentality.
Every time we shift further away from the NDP culture of envy that is a hallmark of both the new and old left, we move closer to a new normal that excludes the socialist dynamic.
What will happen?
Next year the NDP will elect a new leader. The division between new and old left will be apparent. Since the old left won a decisive victory last go around with that disaster, Dwight Lingenfelter, the new left will get the benefit of the doubt this time around and elect some young clown that they will hope will be Brad Wall-esque in his image. There will be a lot fewer old leftists voting due to death and new left alienation.
Meanwhile, mainstream Saskatchewan will be riding a wave of prosperity that is likely to hit Canada in no small part due to a Romney presidency and a Harper majority. People will vote for good old Brad, and the Saskatchewan Party can continue the transformation in year 9, 10, 11 and 12.
Like a zombie flick, leftist values are a dark part of human nature that will not die. We will see some sort of spiritual offspring take the place of the NDP in the future and when we do we must work to destroy it before it gets too much power. In the meantime, the Saskatchewan NDP has only one way forward…and that’s downward.
This is why the Saskatchewan NDP will fade away.