"Saskatchewan NDP Leadership - Part 2 - Trent Wotherspoon" - Guest Post By Dan Tan
(Buckdog is covering the 2013 Saskatchewan New Democratic Party Leadership race - today a 2nd guest post by Dan Tan):
There is nothing like a near-death experience to clarify things. A great benefit of the Lingenfelter wipe-out was that it ensured the candidacies of only the most dedicated & focused leadership contenders. Unlike the federal NDP leadership contest, the Saskatchewan contest hosted no sacrificial lambs, self-promoters, or carpet-baggers.
In a more favourable context, where the distance between the government & its opposition was more narrow, any of these men would have made fine leaders. Alas, the current context offers no such luxury. As the distance is so great, the Saskatchewan NDP requires a leader who can impress & engage in an instant & consistent manner.
The Saskatchewan NDP requires an appealing, professional, and considerate leader - like Trent Wotherspoon.
The federal Liberal Party will soon offer Canada: Justin Trudeau, an intellectually embarrassing - but viscerally appealing political force (akin to Sarah Palin). By contrast, the provincial NDP could offer Saskatchewan the "total package" in Trent Wotherspoon: a leader who combines raw visceral appeal with a substantive handling of policy.
To be honest, that was not the contrast I expected to draw early on. My superficial inclination was to dismiss Wotherspoon as a slick & packaged "product" whose expiry date would be made obvious soon enough. But as the debates progressed, he kept answering questions - and kept defying expectations. A bit frustrated, I looked for fatal flaws...some unappealing manner of presentation, some incompatibility with popular sentiment or core NDP values. I remained frustrated.
In my assessment, Trent Wotherspoon will cause Brad Wall & the Saskatchewan Party a similar amount of frustration. They have relied on voter fatigue to dismiss the NDP. That "time out" will effectively come to an end, as the public - desiring some semblance of balance - will re-evaluate the NDP through its new leader. They have relied on caricature to dismiss the NDP leader. Put it this way, it will be hard for Wall to play the "Alpha" when he faces an opponent far stronger in appearance and more confident in manner. When all that has failed, they have merely relied on a Saskatchewan NDP leaders propensity towards "self-sabotage". They cannot expect such a thing from Trent Wotherspoon, who executes a professional & purposely uncontroversial manner of presentation...especially when he delivers substantive reviews or proposals. Essentially, a Brad Wall vs. Trent Wotherspoon "fight"...would be a fair fight.
Saskatchewan has not seen one of those in a long time.
This is the sort of relatively "bullet-proof" leadership that the Saskatchewan NDP must provide, if they wish to convince the province that they are competent & safe administrators. Of course, the implication here is that Wotherspoon's noble rivals posses potentially fatal chinks in their armour.