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Friday, October 24, 2008 

Saskatchewan New Democratic Party Leadership Race ..... begins!

There wasn't a lot of fanfare to the announcement that former Saskatchewan Premier, Lorne Calvert was stepping down as leader of the Sask New Democrats. Elected Leader in 2001, he automatically assumed the role of Premier vacated by Roy Romanow.

Calvert surprised many with a 2003 provincial election win but the loss of government in the fall of 2007, ending 16 years of New Democratic administration, convinced him that it was time to pass the torch to a new leader.

So who are the hopefuls for the race to lead the Saskatchewan New Democrats?

Nearly everyone would agree that the clear front runner is Dwain Lingenfelter, a former Deputy Premier to Roy Romanow. Lingenfelter was a long time Member of the Legislature first elected in 1978 and again in 1982, 1988*, 1991, 1995 and 1999. He served in a number of cabinet portfolios under Romanow. He is currently farming in rural Saskatchewan and working as an executive in the oil industry. (Lingenfelter was defeated in 1986 but won a by-election in 1988 - H/T to Stephen)

Andrew Thomson is a former NDP Finance Minister (as well as other portfolios) under Calvert. He did not seek re-election in 2007 and has been working in Ontario. It is thought that he may make a bid for the leadership role.

Dion Tchorzewski is a lawyer in Regina and son of the beloved Ed Tchorzewski who served in many Cabinet positions under Premiers Blakeney, Romanow and Calvert. Ed passed away this spring and was one of the most respected politicians in Saskatchewan since Tommy Douglas. Dion is likewise, well respected in the party and could make a run for leadership.

Young turks in the Caucus such as Warren McCall and Cam Broten have apparently both indicated that they are not going to seek the leadership. Veteran caucus members such as Len Taylor, Harry Van Mulligen, Judy Junor and John Nilson are not expected to run. From outside the caucus, there has been speculation that activist Nettie Wiebe may run again. Her showing in 2001 was impressive, but she simply cannot win this one.

I personally have been impressed by the performance of a newly elected MLA from Prince Albert, Darcy Furbur, whose performance in the Legislature has been mature and seasoned for a rookie MLA. He is definitely someone to keep your eye on in the future.

There is also a dark horse who should not be underestimated. Moose Jaw MLA, Deb Higgins could be a candidate who makes it to the final ballot. Coming from Labour but attractive to the Saskatchewan New Democratic Women and other factions, Deb could mount a major challenge to Lingenfelter.

Calvert is staying on as Leader of the New Democrats (and Leader of the Official Opposition) until his replacement is selected by the NDP membership in June, 2009.

Many New Democrats will make their selection based on who they think can limit Brad Wall's Saskatchewan Party to a one term government. From this pack of potential leadership hopefuls ... there is only one or two who could bring that wish to reality. Stay tuned .... more to come as the weeks go by!


Correction: Lingenfelter was defeated in 1986.

He returned to the legislature in 1988 in a by-election.

why can't Nettie win? just curious

Thanks Stephen .. you are correct. I have amended the results and given you a H/T!

Sean ... because I am giving an opinion, I should probably have worded my statement to say ... "I believe that she simply will not win this one."

In the '01 race, Nettie was not able to obtain very much urban support. She has a lot of support from NFU families and the organic and green factions.

In my opinion, she simply will not be able to build a broad enough based coalition that could put her over the top. I like Nettie and would like to see her get elected to the Provincial House so that she can sit in the Cabinet one day.

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