dear saskatchewan

you, my homeland, will decide today on your provincial government. the polls will close in about an hour, and i have to get this off my chest as we countdown to a result.

frankly, you’ve got me worried. i’m not a poll obsessor, but the numbers look bleak for the
beloved new democrats and promising for dapper brad wall and his conservative team.

[as an aside: a bright and worldly colleague of mine confessed cavalierly last week that he had never heard of the
saskatchewan party. i was a bit surprised, but then again, does anyone from ontario really give a shit about what goes on elsewhere? although in the case of saskatchewan, we’re hard pressed to find someone in neighbouring alberta let alone the centre of the universe (aka toronto), who could say much about sask politics. but i digress. so anyways, i shared the story of the sask party, how it came to be, what it has meant for saskatchewan politics, and what it could mean today. this colleague of mine quite correctly pointed out the oddity of that party and its relationship to the federal conservative party, but we both agreed that what’s not an anomaly is the steadily-climbing popularity of the sask party, given the current political climate both in the prairies and at the pan-canadian level.]

look, like any unapologetically ensconced politico, i’m a huge proponent of change when it’s time to replace an incumbent government with the party you support. in your case, my home province, the ndp has governed for the past 16 years, during which time you have given them strange bedfellows during some shaky minority periods, while sometimes allowing them comfortable stretches of clear power. last time around, you barely put them on top. today, we all see the
calvert-led npd shuffling sheepishly into e-day with disturbing poll numbers and grave uncertainty. point being, can we really blame you for choosing change? isn’t that just how things go – even you should conform to natural political tendency to turn over governments after 2-3 terms, no? and never mind electoral norms, do we not find ourselves staring straight into the evil eye of current political storms? how can you be expected to re-elect the ndp One More Time when every last political breeze in this country is swaying you – and everybody else – to the right?

ok, i know what you’re thinking: ‘we’re saskatchewan, dammit! whatever the so-called political climate is in this country, we defy it! we sway by a different wind here [a demonstration of that go-our-own-way-ness being that you remain the only place in the hemisphere (world?) that flips the bird to daylight savings time]. we contradict even the most consistent of political tendencies. for awhile there, we were pretty much the only place in the western world that didn’t consider socialism an indictable offense!’

i hear ya! but here’s why i’m worried. even in the province that birthed medicare, canonized tommy douglas, and has rallied consistently against the mighty tides of neo-conservativism, maybe you’ve possibly fallen victim to The Harper Era? maybe it has gotten its hold on you, too?

the rabid right will be dutiful and do what it does. so will the loyal left. in between those two extremes, my homeland, you have an oft-analyzed long history of weird voting patterns. contemporarily speaking, the ndp knows of its debt to urban ridings for steady provincial success. but many of your staunchest ndp supporters have long followed the bizarre logic of my parents: vote ndp provincially (and in the case of my mother, donate money and even sit on your mla’s riding executive), but vote liberal federally. and it’s that tipsy, substantial slice of the electorate that has me concerned tonight.

it pains me to name the obvious, saskatchewan. your traditional ndp base has become awash in disheartenment and disenfranchisement (for reasons we shan't get into here). and since there is no provincial liberal party to speak of (sorry
mr. karwacki, A+ for earnestness, shame about the stunning lack of traction), my concern is that the sask party machine might have managed to tap into far more than just an anti-ndp sentiment. i’m talking about those forces of the right that have assumed deft control of public and political discourse under The Harper Era (with gratitude to george w.).

and so it is with heavy heart that i implore you, saskatchewan, the province i love: DON’T DO IT. DON’T GET SUCKED IN. prove me wrong and Go Your Own Way. and to you disillusioned centrist voters who dependably vote left but today may be flirting with the idea of putting your checkmark next to a new box: RESIST. don't buy into the sort of hype and rhetoric that confused voters in ontario, quebec, newfoundland/labrador, et al. BE STRONG.

holding out hope for at least another hour,


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