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Tuesday, November 13, 2007 

Liberal Party of Saskatchewan - 'Rest In Peace'

On Election night, former NDP Finance Minister, Andrew Thomson made some interesting observations on the demise of the Saskatchewan Liberal Party. He pointed out that prior to the resurgence of the Progressive Conservative Party in 1975 - 78, the Liberals were the sworn enemies of the New Democrats and that their main base of support was in rural Saskatchewan.

The NDP historically held sway over the Northeast part of Saskatchewan - commonly referred to as ‘Red Square.’ The Libs on the other hand held the large Liberal “L” which extended down the western border of the province and along the southern border that fringes on Montana and North Dakota. The Libs generally won enough urban support in Regina and Prince Albert to win a few seats. They last formed government in Saskatchewan in 1964 - were re-elected in 1967 and then were severely defeated by Alan Blakeny in 1971.

With the re-emergence of the Progressive Conservative Party in the 70's, the Liberals saw an erosion of their support in rural areas. They managed to form the official Opposition in 1975 but lost that status by the end of the term when a number of Liberal Members of the Legislature jumped to the P.C.’s. The Libs never survived that fatal blow.

In the 1978 provincial election, they were wiped out for the first time since Saskatchewan became a province in 1905. They won one seat in 1991 and were completely shut out again in the 2003 election as well as 2007. (The Liberals SHOULD NOT be allowed in the Leader’s debate in the next election. They have not earned it).

Getting back to Thomson’s analysis on why this once great party has been relegated to the dumper, you need to understand where it is that they are currently seeking their support.

Modern Saskatchewan Liberals see themselves as an urban party. Unfortunately for Libs, that turf is held by the New Democrats with the Saskatchewan Party also now represented in Regina, Saskatoon, Prince Albert and Moose Jaw. There is NO room for Liberal growth in the urban areas and the Saskatchewan Party dominates for the moment in the rural constituencies.

The second problem is that in the recent election, the Libs TOTALLY misread what was happening province wide. They incorrectly predicted that the New Democrats would be destroyed and they tried to convince NDP’ers to vote Liberal.

Most Saskatchewan Liberals predicted that they would win a number of urban seats. One well known blogger predicted victory in seats like Regina Rosemont and Saskatoon Meewasin, It was not to be. As Thomson said, the Liberals have forgotten their rural roots and thought that they could become an urban power. It is this inability to understand who and where they are that doomed them to winning no seats again!

Those few ‘dyed in the wool’ Liberals remaining in Saskatchewan are going to have to make a decision. By and large, most of them SHOULD be Conservatives or Saskatchewan Party supporters because they are essentially right of center and cannot move beyond their traditional hatred for New Democrats.

The Liberal Party of Saskatchewan is DEAD! It is deader than a door nail! It is deceased! But like a group of political zombies that do not acknowledge their own demise, they wander the province, eyes vacant and without a soul.

I will shed NO tears for the Liberal Party of Saskatchewan! Good riddance!

Premature declaration of death. The Libs in Sask were down to 10% before and came back. It's too bad Karwacki didn't win his seat as it would've helped him/them rebuild. Now the party needs a wunderkin like Lynda Haverstock to come back. Too bad they were too short-sighted to keep her after 1995 - how dumb that appears in retrospect. Melenchuk did them in by forming a coalition and rendering the party irrelevant and it's been scorched earth ever since. They'll be lucky to find another Haverstock-like person who can move votes their way. The next election might be the best and last chance as voters might not yet be ready to switch back to NDP and could more easily be persuaded to try the Liberals, as long as their leader was energetic and could move votes his/her way. If they can't find that kind of person, then perhaps yes they are dead...

I will grant you that the Sask Libs could pull a 'Lazarus' IF they start attacking the Saskatchewan Party mercilessly AND get themselves organized in the rural areas. For my money they are dead (NO seats after 2 consecutive elections should be sufficient to prove that they are gone ......).


Lynda Haverstock was a part of the Meech Lake debate in the late 1980s, like Sharon Carstairs. Once Chretien became PM in 1995, she became increasingly out of touch. It was a shame because she could have remake herself as a Gordon Campbell like politician.


A centrist alternative to the Sask Party and the NDP exists, although it would require changing the electoral system to proportional representation. In the short term, the Sask Libs' fortunes will depend on how you guys shape yourself after Calvert. Note that the Romanow-Mackinnon faction will be strongly recruited by Dion's Liberals and any move to the far left will be beneficial for us Grits.

And any move and makeover, to the right of centre, a la BC Campbell, will just be a sham.

The Provincial Liberals are a weak echo of their Federal parents and until that's different, they're not going anywhere.

This is what I don't get, lots of out-of-province Liberal bloggers talk about the CPC gaining votes here.

We just had an election where the Liberals failed to show they were different than the Federal Liberals. Dion endorsed Karwacki, for heavens sake. Talk about bad joss. When Karwacki couldn't say anything about the gun-registry it was over.

As long as the Provincial Libs are tied to the Feds, the Liberals are dead in SK.

Leftdog is correct, there is no room for the the Liberals here.



However, until the Liberals patron saint of Saskatchewan, Ralph Goodale, steps down the Liberals will maintain an organizational base that they can draw on. Not to mention, should Ralph ever become leader of the Liberals, the Liberals provincially could have a bounce.

"(NO seats after 2 consecutive elections should be sufficient to prove that they are gone ......)."

Like the Federal NDP in SK too, right? ;-)

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