Saskatchewan politics

Live Blogging the Sask Party Leadership Convention

It seems like just yesterday that I was sitting on my patio at the lake one hot August morning, learning that the rumours were true: Brad Wall was resigning.

It’s been a long, gruelling campaign – a marathon ran at a sprint’s pace – and as much as I’ve given candidates a hard time, they really deserve kudos tonight for putting themselves out there to take on this job. It took guts and stamina to jump into this race, and I’ve no doubt that it took its toll on the candidates at times both physically and emotionally – and it will continue to do so tomorrow night as four out of five of them start processing their loss.

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Tomorrow I am going to live blog the day’s festivities using this post. I don’t have any fancy technology to do so – basically I’m just going to keep hitting the Update button, so you’ll need to keep hitting the Refresh button on this post. I will Tweet as much as I can as well, but I wanted to have a permanent record, so to speak, of tomorrow’s events, because they will shape the future of this province in a way we haven’t seen for at least a decade.

So check back in and I’ll try to keep it as entertaining as possible – I’m guessing that won’t be too difficult. 🙂 Talk later, Tam

8:30am:

I’m up. Well, I’ve been up since 5am, actually, writing the outlines for the op-eds I’ve been commissioned to write after this shindig today is all over. I considered running a bag of Egg McMuffins over to the convention hall, given the Sask. Party’s itinerary says they’ve been counting ballots since 4am. I didn’t, though, because there’s no way they’d let me in confusion over what they’re actually counting – just the external envelopes and verifying IDs, or opening the ballot itself and tallying the votes. The latter seems strange, given that if that was the case, the Sask. Party leadership committee already know who won this thing. But, the itinerary says specifically “4am: Vote Counting Begins” so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯?

I’m guessing this won’t be the first or last question I’ve got today about ballots.

The provincial government’s cutting edge Highways’ Hotline map thing is blinking yellow all around Saskatoon, thanks to the copious amounts of snow that got dumped on us the moment I stepped off the plane from Mexico which is total bullshit over the last couple of days. Apparently yellow means icy sections and swirling, drifting snow blah blah blah, but I promise and guarantee you that the parking lot at Prairieland Exhibition will be chock-a-block with half-ton trucks from every corner of the province, as nothing is going to stop the Sask. Party’s rural base from showing up to bask in Brad Wall’s warm glow one last time. Well that and the fact that many, if not most of them have been driving half tons through blizzards since they were 9-years-old, so a little bit of blowing snow and black ice aint no thang.

I live close to Prairieland Exhibition Centre so I’m considering walking hahahahahahahaha just kidding as if.

But seriously, if any assholes jump on the hood of my SUV as I’m trying to get in to the parking lot, I promise I’m getting out to punch them in the face and subsequently show up on the 6 o’clock news in a grainy cellphone video have a word.

I’m super excited for today. Also, I need a life. Ttyl.

10:45am:

I have to go downtown to return a blazer I bought because as if I’m ever going to wear a blazer? What? I don’t know what I was thinking, but today is my last day to return it so it’s a whole thing.

First though, a few of you have asked what time it’s all happening today. Here’s the itinerary I’ve got:

12:00 PM Convention Registration Opens
In-person Voting Begins
2:30 PM Program Begins (Hall B)
2:40 PM Candidate Speeches (10 Minutes per candidate)
3:40 PM Last Call for Voting
4:00 PM Voting Closes
4:15 PM Premier’s Keynote Speech
6:00 PM Results Announcement
6:30 PM (approx.) Premier-designate Victory Speech
6:45 PM Celebratory Reception

So I think I’m going to go around 1pmish, depending on what time Mandryk gets here (he’s not answering my texts right now so presumably he’s driving and being all responsible).

The candidates’ speeches are pointless given that voting is all but completed, so I’m guessing those will be laden with gracious sentiments directed at fellow candidates sprinkled liberally with pleas for unity.

(Which is kind of funny when you think about it – in countries around the world political opponents and their followers imprison or just straight up murder each other. Here we’re all like “please PLEASE be nice to each other on Facebook!!”)

Based on the time allotted for “Results Announcement” I’m guessing they’re going to just put up the results all at once, as opposed to exploiting the melodrama that accompanies going round by round.

One more thing – apparently Stop the Cuts, you know, of Premier’s Dinner car-jumping and general dickery fame, are planning another protest today at 11am. I’m probably too late, but a few words of advice:

  • don’t be idiots, because I guarantee there will be moderate voters attending this convention who you will absolutely alienate from ever voting for your side ever again;
  • don’t attempt to obstruct any one else’s participation in democracy, because that’s really dumb and counterproductive;
  • in case that wasn’t clear, don’t jump on, push or even touch (even with your pinky finger) someone else or their property;
  • don’t be idiots
  • be loud, be rowdy, be proud of your message and make your point…
  • but don’t be idiots.

Now I’m going to the mall.

2:15pm:

Well I’m here. I nearly hit Brad and Tami Wall in the parking lot. To be fair to me, he was totally cutting cross country instead of using the lots roads, Brad. God.

Can you imagine if that happened?

I drove by the protestors this morning on my way to the mall. There was like one cop for every four protestors, so it was pretty subdued. All they did was walk sloooowwwwwwly around the four-way stop crosswalks – which to their credit, was infuriating, especially since I wasn’t even turning into the Exhibition parking lot so they probably could have had the sense to let me pass. But, it was effective, clearly, and peaceful, so good for them. When I drove in a few minutes ago they were gone.

Right now I’m sitting with media and feel like a total fraud, go even I don’t normally ever ask for accreditation nor consider myself media, even though I am writing up a piece afterwards for Maclean’s and the local newspaper I write for. But I asked this time simply because I didn’t want to sit alone (which I totally would have been doing), and surprisingly, was politely accepted. So yay us.

Chevy’s team has filled up an entire section, just in front of the media pool, for his supporters. He saved the seats by putting his signs on them, which wouldn’t be allowed if this was a resort and they were pool loungers.

There is weird house techno muzak playing in the background. Not loud enough to actually hear it, but just loud enough to hear the bass. Imagine standing outside and up the street from a club. A club full of cowboy hats and tension.

Beyond that it’s really, really quiet in here. The only candidate I’ve seen is Chevy, who is currently pacing nervously in front of his section. Actually no, he just came over and said hi. Dammit, he drives me nuts but I have a soft spot for him. He says what’s done is done, and he slept well last night.

Alanna’s supporters are wearing bright yellow t-shirts and have formed a kind of human chain in front of the entrance to greet people – which is so futile given there are maybe a dozen votes left to be cast. Maybe it will come down to that, who knows.

Tami and Brad are now hugging Chevy. There will be a lot of that vacuousness going down today.

I wonder if Don McMorris knows his iPhone is discoverable as a wi-fi hotspot.

A former Sask Party MLA called me a couple of hours ago. While they requested not to be named, here was the message they asked me to give you:

“The Sask Party leadership voting process is illegitimate by design.”

Having no proof of such, I have to add. That said, this paper ballot/self-policing business to elect the next individual controlling an $8-billion budget is really rather banana republic and we should probably talk about it at some point.

Unless Gord Wyant wins, in which case I’m totally fine with it let’s move on.

I have to go find some water. Apparently there is none provided in the media room, which is weird. I mean if f I was running that media room, there would be water. Hell, there would be soda – even club.

2:50pm:

Lyle Stewart is introducing Gord Wyant. For those who don’t know, Stewart is a hardcore badass who once stabbed a carjacker with a pen. Also, he’s Saskatchewan’s Agriculture Minister.

Gord Wyant’s theme song is I Gotta Feeling by the Black Eyed Peas. Interesting choice. He’s also got a new hair cut, and I like it.

Wyant’s speech is all about restoring the “mainstream” aspect of the party. I’m telling you though, if he wins somebody needs to inject that man with some life.

Derek Myers – who? – is introducing Tina Beaudry-Mellor.

“Ladies and gentleman, it’s Tina time.”

OMG it’s not her… it’s a video montage? Set to what I believe might be a hybrid of DMX and AC/DC?

Dear god there’s B-roll of her walking. Never do that.

Her introduction guy is now jumping up and down and screaming. What’s happening?

We get another five seconds of AC/DC which segues into TBM’s theme song, which is Beyonce’s Run the World… as she strides on stage wearing all white.

Niki Ashton called, she wants her gaffe back.

3:15pm:

After Tina Beaudry-Mellor comes Alanna Koch, who doesn’t have anyone introducing her, despite the fact that MLA and former cabinet Minister Don McMorris was one of her main guys. Instead she has a video montage of pictures of herself with various people no one knows set to cheesy country music.

Gord Wyant mentioned Brad Wall once. I don’t think Tina did at all. Koch is giving his eulogy.

Surprisingly, for the first time ever in this campaign Koch just admitted that maybe the Sask Party was a bit “on its heels”.

She says something quasi-inspirational and there’s a smattering of applause throughout the crowd, primarily from her supporters. Chevy’s section sits stone cold. As she finishes and walks off her entourage cheers wildly and there is a smattering of polite applause from the rest of the room.

Now Scott Moe is up. In a rare display of personality, he cracks a joke about seeing Tina Beaudry-Mellor driving a combine. Whatever.

Moe is followed by Chevy, whose theme song is Don’t Stop Believing. Not much subtlety here.

Chevy has gone a gorgeous shade of brunette for today, I see.

He’s introduced by his little brother, Kevin Cheveldayoff, who is GM of the Winnipeg Jets. Mandryk is uncharacteristically animated. Presumably about the Jets, not Chevy. Predictably, his entourage is definitely the largest and loudest. What I’m noticing most about Chevy’s speech is it sounds like a victory speech, not a campaign speech. Like Wyant, I gotta feeling, but one likely different from his.

Guys, I think Chevy might have this. The wild card right now is totally Saskatchewan teachers, who aren’t in the room but still loom large. Chevy is actually the only candidate to acknowledge them.

4:15pm:

There’s a child – Sask Party Youth president – lecturing us on humility and perseverance from the podium now. Where is the Social Services Minister when you need him?

Alright folks here we go. Premier Brad Wall’s final speech. The whole room – for the first (and last, I’m sure) time today, in unity – is on its feet.

Wait, where is he? It got awkward for a minute as everyone looked around, panicked. Had he left already? Oh there he is. PHEW. Can you imagine?

Wall opens his mouth and he’s crying. After a while he hardens up and gets into a groove thanking everyone. His wife Tami is still here, still smiling and bouncy and cheerful and really, she’s adorable and/or awesome. I hope it’s her time to shine now, in a big way.

He asks for a second time for the party to be as good to and supportive of the new leader as they have been of him. His tone and demeanour suggest this isn’t just something he thinks he has to say. He then refers to the leadership race as a “family competition”.

When me and my sisters compete for something, someone usually ends up bleeding and definitely more than one is crying.

I’m sure that’s not what Wall means though.

Now he’s talking about how unlike the rest of the country, something something about the 80s and 90s, the Sask Party government will have the budget back to balance within this term (ie before 2020). He’s on his way out, so I guess he can say what he wants.

Today’s NDP – Saskatchewan and Alberta – bears little resemblance to era of Roy Romanow. That era is dead. More comfortable in a coffee house in downtown Toronto than they would be on coffee row in Arcola.

Just as he says that, the Saskatchewan NDP’s chief of staff walks in to the room. #awkward

Alberta is bad, very bad. Modern NDP and drivers of our economy – oil and gas, uranium mining, resource development, crop science.

OH GOD WHY are we talking about Alberta?? I think he’s crying again.

Okay we’re talking about the Alberta NDP because this portion of the speech is definitely about him pouring gasoline on the NDP’s house and tossing a match behind him. He’s reminding the room that their common enemy is the NDP, not each other. He’s using the NDP in a last-ditch effort to unify the decidedly not unified room in front of him.

It’s rather brilliant.

6:05pm:

I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m not doing this fast enough, but this is harder work than I thought and I have a headache. Somebody call me a whambulance please. Right meow.

They’re about to announce the results of the first ballot, which are kind of useless because all its going to show is Rob Clarke dropping off. Tina will go next. I predict a strong showing from Chevy – first place. If the teachers showed up for Wyant he’ll land in third, then needs Moe to go to push him into first. That said, I think Chevy’s support will be strong, and he could shave just enough off Moe to win on third ballot.

God it’s cold where I’m sitting, and I don’t think it’s just the chill between supporters.

6:20pm:

Emcee says “before we get to the results I just want to thank a few people…” Everyone seems really excited about that. WTF just get to it.

Oh, she says that MNP has been auditing the entire leadership election process since the beginning. This was not been widely publicized to say the least. Now the MNP accountant guy is telling us what they did to protect the integrity of the race. He says they’ve been contracted as “fairness advisors”. Check and balances, random checks of data yada yada.

“I’m pleased to report that the electoral officer has conducted this election with extreme diligence…” fairness throughout. The electoral officer is the party CEO, and they paid you to say that, so forgive me for not caring.

Look, the Sask Party is rolling in effing cash – they could have outsourced it and they didn’t. That’s the last I’ll say about it.

There’s an echo in here and it’s super annoying.

annoying

annoying

God I feel like I’m going to puke? Why do I feel that way? You could cut the tension with a damn knife.

“Before we read the first ballot results, I’d like to thank…” SHUT UP BUNDROCK AND READ THE DAMN RESULTS FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.

Incidentally, Patrick Bundrock has a very nice, calm speaking voice. I did not know that about him, and it’s lovely.

OH GOD IT’S HAPPENING

There were 17,159 ballots counted.

Rob Clarke got 46 votes, or .28%.

Oh my god this is awful – Tina Beaudry-Mellor got 226 votes, or 1.32% of the vote. She got obliterated. This isn’t just leadership career-ending, it could be career ending. That’s a devastating showing and she’s in a vulnerable riding already.

Wyant is in fourth at 21.54%. There aren’t enough votes in Beaudry-Mellor’s camp to push him further so he’s done too.

Chevy is THIRD OMG WTF with 4177 votes, or 24.34% of the vote. Moe has 4483 votes or 26.13%, and Alanna Koch as 4529 or 26.39%.

Question now is where do Wyant’s votes go – IMO they’ll go to Chevy and Moe. I don’t think this is good news for Koch. But, I’ve just proven per my previous update that I don’t know shit, so ignore me.

6:35pm:

I just asked a group of teachers who their second choice was after Wyant, and they said Moe. That surprises me, as Chevy was the only other candidate who engaged teachers.

Here’s two things I know for sure: less than a quarter of this room is going to leave here happy tonight, and if Moe wins there’s going to be some drunk cabinet ministers tonight.

They’re now reading the second round of results showing Tina Beaudry-Mellor is out. Chevy’s section is subdued. They’re rattled, you can tell, but that’s premature because this is way too close to call. There are thirty-eight – THIRTY-EIGHT – votes separating Moe and Koch, and 331 votes separating Chevy from Koch.

This is still anyone’s game between the top three. There’s no consensus on the floor whatsoever over where Wyant’s votes are going to go.

I really have to pee but there’s no way I’m getting up. Which is annoying because this is only being dragged out because it can be – the votes are already long counted. Well, it’s only annoying because I gotta pee, but still.

6:40pm:

A spontaneous cheer for Chevy goes up after he stands up to motivate his despondent supporters. Chevy supporters Eric Olauson and that other guy who beat Cam Broten – Harrington? – who cares, are walking around like someone just killed their dog.

Or their chances of ever making cabinet.

6:50pm:

Tina Beaudry Mellor’s votes have been redistributed. Wyant is officially out, as are this party’s chances of being a centrist coalition ever again. Moe and Chevy are both card-carrying Conservatives and Koch, who worked for Grant Devine, is reportedly farther right than those two.

Half of  TBM’s votes went to Moe, while the others were split between Chevy and Koch.

Well Chevy is done. The general consensus around here is the majority of his votes will go to Moe.

Can somebody tell me why Lenore Swystun is here?

7:45pm:

Well. That was special.

Scott Moe, who is basically a living breathing Homer Simpson, is Saskatchewan’s new premier and the new leader of the Sask Party.

Brad Wall he aint.

But we knew this.

Right now Moe is over giving Rawlco/John Gormley an interview before any other media, which is always a great way to make friends. Wonder if he’s going to ask Gormley why he ambushed him on the air in an attempt to sabotage his campaign in favour of Koch?

Probably not. He’s going to need that mouthpiece.

I’m tapped folks. Lots of analysis to come. Right now I truly believe Chevy deserved the win over Moe, so I should probably stop writing and think for a while. Plus I’m super hungry… and I still haven’t peed.

Have a good night friends and thank you so much for reading!

Oh and PS, Lenore Swystun was here because she was covering the event for the community radio station she works for. She came over and chatted with me and was super nice so now I feel like a bit of a dick.

But let’s face it, there’s no way I was going to leave this convention without feeling that way.

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For those of you who care, I’m Tammy Robert. I’m a writer, but pay the bills consulting in media and public relations. Feel free to email me anytime about either at tammyrobert@live.ca.
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7 replies »

  1. Have you seen the “Premier’s Welcome Party!” event at scheduled for Prairieland today by Stop the Cuts? What’s wrong with the common sense of these people? The last event they did at Prairieland was a PR NIGHTMARE! (so glad Sarah and I pissed so many people at the first organizing teleconference that everyone mutually agreed that people who love library should just stay home)

    Like

  2. Has Elvis left the building? What will we ever do without our Messiah?
    I heard something about a church in his speech?
    Something about him giving back the nuns inheritance that he & Billy Boyd stole from them!
    My God – honestly- The Soviet Republic of Sask !

    Like

  3. Is the NDP the enemy ? in our province and abroad ? Gross partisan blabbedy blah blah. Lest we identify the enemy the whole province dislikes : Going broke.
    I wish a candidate (from either side, or the middle…ahem…Chevy) would grow a set and recognize the other provincial party actually has the right and ability to govern, and in the meantime, play nice and address the financial problem that’s about to get worse.
    Likely the wrong blog thing or whatever for my opinion. Apologies if that’s the case.

    Like

  4. Is the NDP the enemy ? in our province and abroad ? Gross partisan blabbedy blah blah. Lest we identify the enemy the whole province dislikes : Going broke.
    I wish a candidate (from either side, or the middle…ahem…Chevy) would grow a set and recognize the other provincial party actually has the right and ability to govern, and in the meantime, play nice and address the financial problem that’s about to get worse.
    Likely the wrong blog thing or whatever for my opinion. Apologies if that’s the case.

    Like

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