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Saskatchewan Elections: The Saskatchewan Party

Saskatchewan is an enigma. The same province that elected North America's first socialist government also launched the career of Tory Prime Minister John Diefenbaker. In the past 40 years the winds of political change have swept through Saskatchewan as voters have elected leaders from four different parties into office. Tommy Douglas. Ross Thatcher. Grant Devine. Roy Romanow. These are the political gunslingers that have turned Saskatchewan's provincial elections into prairie showdowns.

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Formed two years ago by disgruntled Tories and Liberals, the Saskatchewan Party is gaining momentum as the 1999 election draws nearer. Roy Romanow and the NDP call them Sask-A-Tories. Party leader Elwin Hermanson resents Romanow's characterization of his party being nothing more than retreads from the Grant Devine era. However, as the CBC's News Hour reveals in this television clip, the Saskatchewan Party of '99 and the Tories of '95 have a lot in common. 
• On Aug. 8, 1997, former party leaders Bill Boyd (PC) and Ken Krawetz (Liberal) announced the formation of the Saskatchewan Party. One month later, after a petition drive received the required 2,500 signatures, the Chief Electoral Officer of Saskatchewan registered the Saskatchewan Party as an official political party. On April 20, 1998, Elwin Hermanson was elected the party's first leader. Hermanson was a federal Reform Party MP from 1993-97, serving as House leader and chief agriculture critic.

• In their respective campaign platforms, both the '95 Tories and the '99 Saskatchewan Party promised to: cut the size of government, cut provincial sales tax, start charging sales tax to off-reserve aboriginals, move employable welfare recipients into the workforce, get tougher on young offenders and get rid of union preference tendering policy for government work.

• The 1999 elections results: NDP 29 seats (38 per cent of the popular vote), Saskatchewan Party 25 (39 per cent), Liberal 4 (20 per cent). The NDP lost 13 seats compared to the 1995 election, while the Liberals lost nine. It was a stunning result as the Saskatchewan Party won more of the popular vote than the NDP, reducing the NDP to a minority government in the process. The previous minority government in Saskatchewan was in 1929 when James Gardiner and the Liberals took office.

• It was Saskatchewan's rural voters that nearly ushered Romanow out of office in 1999. Although they were completely shut out in Saskatchewan's 26 urban ridings, the Saskatchewan Party won 25 seats in rural ridings. Political pundits believed low commodity prices, high input costs and a crumbling road network under Romanow sparked rural voters to vote for the Saskatchewan Party.

• The NDP survived another close call on Nov. 5, 2003. With Lorne Calvert at the helm, the New Democrats took 30 seats of the 58 seats (a slim majority.) It was the NDP's fourth consecutive term, and the party increased its hold to 44.5 per cent of the popular vote. Brad Wall's Saskatchewan Party finished a close second, with 28 seats. The Liberals were completely shut out.
Medium: Television
Program: News Hour
Broadcast Date: Sept. 2, 1999
Guest(s): Ray Bailey, Brenda Bakken, Elwin Hermanson, David Smith
Reporter: Dean Gutheil
Duration: 4:18

Last updated: March 9, 2012

Page consulted on September 10, 2014

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