Fixed Election Dates & Political Game-Playing

Yeah, I’m back to blogging (I think). More on that at a later date, including why I quit for a while and what I’m working on lately.

For now, apologies for the mess around here. I am trying (and largely failing) to find the time to renovate. But as I started, mainly out of curiosity, looking up and Tweeting quotes regarding fixed election dates, I realized they’d make more sense as a blog post than one long thread.

So here we are.

Rookie SaskParty candidates and volunteers are excitedly running their mouths about the snap election they say Premier Scott Moe is going to call on or around March 19th, despite repeatedly insisting he’s not. I wanted to understand the reasons his party has given us in the past regarding why fixed election dates were so important to them.

So important, in fact, that fixed election date legislation was Brad Wall’s very first action – taken the day after he won and became premier-elect in 2007.

Front page of the Regina Leader-Post, November 9, 2007

“First on Wall’s to-do list is the party’s commitment to fixed election dates…”

Regina Leader-Post, November 9, 2007, two days after the Sask Party won government.

God I hate political hypocrisy

SO.

MUCH.

Because I’m old enough to remember when the Sask Party did things like fulfill promises because it was the right thing to do and because it was what Saskatchewan people wanted.

Sure, Brad’s long gone, but all of the other people quoted below are still in government. Most of them are running again in the next election.

So without further ado, I give you, in their own words, the Sask Party’s reasoning on fixed-election date laws (emphasis mine):

“In order to ensure that date and to eliminate any political game-playing in the setting of an election date, my government will introduce legislation to establish a fixed election date every four years in November.” – First ever Sask Party Throne Speech, one month after they were elected to government, Dec 2007.

“Our next election date has been set…thus marking the end of election game playing and pre-election gimmicks and spending.” – Sask Party MLA Nadine Wilson, Dec 2007.

“We need set election dates because the government should never have the hammer or play with the voters, trying to decide a date when it’s best for them… that was one of the things when I went door to door that every person agreed on that liked set election dates.” – Sask Party MLA Greg Brkich, Dec 2007.

“Mr. Speaker, we are the party who does what we say we will do. It is this government who promised fixed election dates. Promise kept.” – Sask Party MLA Nancy Heppner, Dec 2007.

“…there would be those who advise a political party, perhaps all political parties, that if you give away the chance to manipulate or set the election or ramp-up spending or making a bunch of promises or ramping-up advertising prior to an election, if you give that up it’s just not politically smart. I think all political parties have heard that same counsel before. But there are some political parties that would say, well that’s not good enough. Because this place isn’t about us… It’s about the people of the province of Saskatchewan. They deserve to know the date — the date on which they can either rehire or fire the government…And that was the first promise kept…” – Premier Brad Wall, Dec 2007.

“I was very happy that one of the first promises kept was the establishment of a fixed date for elections… No longer will the most basic and vital democratic right be held hostage by political considerations and influences. Everyone knows when the next election will be, and all Saskatchewan residents are better served by that knowledge. No more delaying going to the polls. No more judging the political winds, trying to guess when the best time to face the voters is.” – Sask Party MLA and longtime senior Cabinet minister Don Morgan, April 2008.

“….set election dates will remove some of the political gamesmanship and voter cynicism that we have seen in the past.” – Don Morgan, again, October 2008.

“…it’s important for us all to remember that we have landed at a compromise….But remember this. Since 2007, Mr. Speaker, all of the people in this room and across the province have known when the election date is far out, in this case about two years out from the election date, Mr. Speaker. Prior to 2007 under the members opposite they had as little as 28 days’ notice.” – Premier Scott Moe, November 2018, after fixing the election date in the law he is now contemplating breaking with far less than 28 days’ notice.

“…we are following the rules that were set out, set out in (fixed election date) legislation actually….And it is this government that will continue to follow the rules that have been put forward by that committee with representation by both sides of this House… we will be obeying the (fixed election date) law as it has been set out.” – Moe, November 2018.

From there you can reasonably extrapolate the following reasons why the Sask Party would call a spring election:

  • they’re playing political games
  • they’re capitalizing on pre-election gimmicks
  • they no longer do what they say they’re going to do
  • they’re manipulating the election outcome
  • it’s no longer about the people of Saskatchewan, it’s about them
  • we don’t deserve to know the date of the next election
  • they’re holding our most basic and democratic right hostage
  • to reintroduce voters to cynicism
  • because they no longer believe the rules apply to them

You can decide for yourself why the Sask Party is planning on breaking their own promise to the people of Saskatchewan and refusing to follow their own law.

But if they’re going to both those things before the next election, don’t be surprised if it continues afterwards. And don’t come crying to me about partisanship for writing this; I didn’t make the rules.

They did.

I’m Tammy Robert. I’m a writer, but pay the bills consulting in political strategy, media and public relations. Feel free to email me anytime at tammyrobert@live.ca.

One thought on “Fixed Election Dates & Political Game-Playing

  1. I was thinking that Moe’s government know that they are going to lose the carbon tax ruling at the Supreme court and fear that farmers are going to be angry.
    They could have used money from the carbon tax to provide rebates to farmers who had to dry grain and to shore up Crop Insurance programs they have been whittling away.
    So, an early election, plus…..teachers may finally grow some and do something.

    Like

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