Saskatchewan politics

SaskParty Leadership Roundup: Week 2 (Alternate Title: Chevy’s Funeral Home & Crematorium)

Roundup… get it?

Because rural.

If there’s a tractor in Saskatchewan that a SaskParty leadership candidate hasn’t tried to wedge themselves into over the past week or two, I’d be surprised.

First, some housekeeping:

  • I’m calling this Week 2 of the SaskParty leadership race. It’s probably not, but that feels about right to me, so it stays.
  • No more prognostications for now – we’re just going to stick to recapping the goings-ons of the Premier-hopefuls.
  • I’m going to try to rip critique everyone evenly, but I apologize in advance if one feels more picked-on than another. I’m sure it will even out.

Rural Ramblings

Alright, so let’s talk about farmers, who are squarely in the crosshairs of each campaign. Tina Beaudry-Mellor was singing Lynyrd Skynyrd on a combine and Tweeting about her dumps (I get it, but just… no). Gord Wyant was doing rural things in a rural field with superfarmer/badass Lyle Stewart.

Saskatoon MLA Ken Cheveldayoff’s slogan, or at least one of them, is “Rural Roots/Urban Strong”. I’m not sure that’s a smart line, given it kind of implies that rural isn’t strong.

We’ve learned that Scott Moe once killed someone on a rural road, which probably wasn’t the country-strong start he was looking for. So, he made up for it this week with a picture of himself on the biggest, most expensive piece of farm equipment he could find.

Alanna Koch announced her candidacy standing in a field, and has been busy reinforcing her farm-cred (to be fair it’s legit) with social media posts of her taking meals out to a harvest team or posing with her family on rather rusty-looking old farm equipment. (“Does everyone has their tetanus shots? Say cheese!”)

There are approximately 12,000 SaskParty members in Saskatchewan, and a safe bet is at least two-thirds of them live in rural Saskatchewan. Only SaskParty members get to vote for their next leader, so each candidate is first trying to secure as much of that core demographic as possible.

A lot more is going to be required than that, but we can discuss it later.

What They Got Up To

Thanks to that nasty revelation about her primary rival’s past (hmm I wonder where that came from) (just kidding no I don’t), Alanna Koch smartly stepped back and let Scott Moe’s campaign implode. She had a quiet week, only putting out a no-brainer statement on the federal Liberals ridiculous proposed tax changes.

Moe, perhaps trying to get as far away from his Gotcha!-moment as possible, announced his policy on “International Trade and Exports“, namely a new Saskatchewan Ministry of International Trade and Exports. Because nothing strengthens international trade like more government interference.

Gord Wyant rolled out a fairly well-rounded mix of endorsements from a couple of current and former MLAs and the business community. He also released an interesting statement in response to the NDP’s easy victory over the SaskParty in the Saskatoon-Fairview by-election:

“It is time for the Saskatchewan Party to re-evaluate and re-commit to truly listening to the people we serve. It’s also important that our next leader be able to connect with all Saskatchewan people.”

Wouldn’t that be refreshing. Wyant was the only candidate (that I saw) to acknowledge the SaskParty got their asses handed to them because they’ve been a bunch of asses, and I like that.

Ken Cheveldayoff rolled out his own endorsements, a rag-tag bunch of backbenchers who I’m pretty sure won’t see much more limelight during Chevy’s campaign.

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Future Cabinet, or future Chevy’s Funeral Home & Crematorium promo image? You decide.

You’ll note the headline on Chevy’s news release says “Ten Saskatchewan Party MLA’s Endorse Cheveldayoff”. First, there is no apostrophe on MLAs. Second, the release only lists nine MLAs – weird right?

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No, not if you’re endorsing yourself, as he explained on Facebook when asked about the math.

I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve regretted not naming this blog Do They Think We’re Stupid? C’mon Ken.

Not sure when, but Chevy has posted content on the “Policies and Solutions” page of his website, including:

Screen Shot 2017-09-16 at 8.52.07 PM.png

ProTip: bullet points or numbers will suffice to ensure we understand these are separate ideas.

Point 1 is annoying. Elected officials, and the SaskParty as a whole, needs to start listening to the people of Saskatchewan – all of them – period. The last thing we need is another layer of political-appointees making the decisions around here. Point 3 is fascinating; I look forward to an entire platform plank dedicated to the furnace repair industry.

Tina Beaudry-Mellor introduced her first platform “pillar” called “Smart Social Investment”. I suppose “I Am Not a Heartless Person” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.

Part of her plan is “financial literacy and entrepreneurship” in schools to teach the “importance of budgeting, recognizing manageable consumer debt, and saving for the future”.

Suuuuuper helpful social programming for the 1 in 4 kids in Saskatchewan classrooms living in poverty.

Odds & Ends

The GTH Scandal continues to rampage unfettered, and trust me, there’s more coming. Gord Wyant led with a call for an inquiry into that hot mess (which he says he’ll pursue even if he’s not elected leader). Tina Beaudry-Mellor dutifully followed suit (Tina, stop putting out messaging driven by another candidate), Chevy was “open to it” but noncommittal, and Alanna Koch was even moreso the latter.

All four of these candidates – including Koch who will position herself as a Trump-style outsider, but is probably more of an insider than any of the other three combined – need to get their shit together on this issue and start talking. Are you going to fire the $250,000 per year employee who seemingly can’t spell his name without asking for help, never mind coherently answer questions on the GTH in committee meetings? Are you going to sell the money-hemorraghing pit?

There’s been some talk of a televised Sask Party leadership debate, which the candidates seemed to support wholeheartedly. But hold your horses, say the condescending twits running this show at Sask Party HQ.

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God forbid we open up this process to observation from the unwashed masses (though as the delightful Tiffany Paulsen pointed out, you can get in on the action for a mere ten bucks).

That said, I cannot WAIT to live-Tweet the debates.

With the nomination deadline still ten weeks away, there could still be more also-rans candidates entering the fray. One of those rumoured to be getting his hat ready is Saskatoon’s Darryl Cooper – you may know him from his many radio appearances complaining about the Premier’s Dinner protestors who allegedly dented his car.

What happened to Daryl was shitty, but does not a Premier make.

What They Need To Do Next

Gord Wyant is getting hammered for his association with the federal Liberal Party, who are currently in the process of stubbornly refusing to walk-back from the PR shitstorm that is their tax change proposal. Even though it’s silly to believe that Wyant would support something the entire province is so overtly against, and he has been clear he is against the tax changes and a carbon tax, he’s not been loud enough. Wyant needs to aggressively define himself away from the federal Liberals asap, or they’re going to define him.

Alanna Koch needs to put out something substantial around policy – or really anything.  There’s talk that in convincing her to run, her ego was overinflated by her backroom supporters. Reality is going to hit real quick, especially when she figures out that those backroom folks don’t have nearly the influence they like to think they do.

Chevy needs to clean up his act. The grammatical errors and sloppy communication, the too-cute-by-half manipulation of his endorsement numbers, the gimmicky tag lines (#ChevyisReady) need to go. He’s also got some seriously toxic campaign advisors that he should know better than to rely on. That said, the man is a workhorse, and has already been criss-crossing the province grinding out meet and greets, and you know that when he’s not talking to members or potential members in person, he’s on his phone. Shallow or not, he’s a formidable threat til the end.

Tina Beaudry-Mellor needs to get back inside city limits and stay there. She’s fooling no one with this sudden interest in farming and it’s going to win her precisely zero votes. She’s the only Regina MLA in the race, which gives her a nice regional edge; it’s time to put down the fake moustaches and start working the cities, hard.

Scott Moe needs to take a long look in the mirror. Literally. As the SaskParty learned the hard way with Elwin Hermanson, optics are everything, and his are brutal. Consider, for example:

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FScottMoeSK%2Fvideos%2F1620433941334329%2F&show_text=0&width=476

(I don’t know why I can’t get this Facebook link to embed properly but I’m done trying. It’s worth a click though.)

Brad Wall he is not.

That’s all for now. Off to pop the popcorn for Week 3.

For those of you who care, I’m Tammy Robert. I’m a writer, but pay the bills consulting in media and public relations. Email me anytime at tammyrobert@live.ca

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