- Category: news
- Created: Friday, 04 October 2013 13:09
- Published: Friday, 04 October 2013 13:09
- Written by Administrator 3
- Hits: 481
BY MURRAY MANDRYK, THE LEADER-POST
The point isn't that new NDP Leader Cam Broten is anything like former NDP leader Dwain Lingenfelter.
About the only accurately reflected reality in those new Saskatchewan Party TV ads now running is that both Broten and Lingenfelter are New Democrats (or perhaps "were" NDPers; one never can be quite sure where Link is coming from at any given time). But as for disposition, personality, style and outlook, the last two NDP leaders could not be more different.
So the point isn't that revenue sharing with First Nations - at least, as advanced by Lingenfelter in the 2011 provincial election campaign - was ever a well-thought-out policy.
This was a "Hail Mary pass" on Lingenfelter's part to try appealing to First Nations voters in a few ridings critical to the NDP. But added to the extra $3.1 billion in proposed spendng for the next four years by the NDP (or "Spend-D-P", as Premier Brad Wall called it), this badly backfired.
The point isn't that Broten has been heralding First Nations revenue-sharing - or anything else from that failed 2011 Lingenfelter campaign - as his policy. Why would anyone repeat anything from the worst Saskatchewan NDP campaign since the CCF started running candidates in 1938? There is reason to criticize Broten's leadership - not the least of which is that he seems unwilling to engage in anything more controversial than drinking tea with little old NDP ladies.
One clip of Broten speaking on revenue-sharing after winning the NDP leadership six months ago has been about the only thing reporters could pry out of his mouth on the matter.
Prior to that, the last time we heard about this as an NDP policy was the day after the 2011 election, when MLA Trent Wotherspoon said it would be dropped.
The next day, Wotherspoon said that would not be the case.
If this is going to be NDP policy, then the party has just wasted two years it could have spent making an unpopular idea more palatable to Saskatchewan voters.
And if it isn't, then Broten should tell us that as well.
Certainly, there has been no such ambiguity from Wall and the Sask.
Party on this issue.
Notwithstanding a recent commentary that Wall and Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) Chief Perry Bellegarde have been "in discussions" on revenuesharing, Wall's communication staff says this talk was limited to Bellegarde raising the matter and Wall responding with his unequivocal election campaign position that revenue-sharing was not going to happen on the Sask. Party's watch.
But were there not umpteen other costly 2011 NDP campaign promises? For Wall and the Sask. Party to feel the need to make such an emphatic point about First Nations revenue-sharing leaves one with the impression that this was a "silent dog whistle" to the party's base and other potential voters. Or so many First Nations people now believe.
"Is the governing party planning to use First Nations as a wedge issue in the next election campaign?" asked respected First Nations writer Doug Cuthand in a recent column.
"Has it written off support from the province's aboriginal community, which constitutes about 20 per cent of the population?" Of course, the Sask. Party will argue people are deliberately misinterpreting why it might have specifically homed in on First Nations revenue-sharing.
But little in costly and carefully crafted political ads happens by accident. And if the intent wasn't to create a wedge between NDP and Sask. Party supporters, then it was at least designed to degrade the idea of even talking to the First Nations leadership about this issue before it can get any more traction.
As Cuthand also noted, resource revenue-sharing is "gaining traction across Indian country"; he points to signed agreements across the country that have worked. And Bellegarde is bound to keep raising the issue in this province - especially in northern resource development and potash mines on reserves.
One way or the other, Wall is going to have confront this issue and other First Nations problems. It's difficult to see how this ad will help.
Were this ad just about criticizing Broten's ambiguity or trying to define the new NDP leader before he defines himself, well, all's fair in love, war and politics.
It's also why Wall's popularity is holding steady while Broten's popularity - at least, according to the latest Angus Reid poll - is dropping a little.
But the point of this ad might have been something more destructive.
Mandryk is the political columnist for the Leader-Post.