'I've switched to multi-partisan': Political supporters of all stripes buying Sask. Party memberships
Some Saskatchewan residents may not support the party, but want a chance to vote for the new premier
Would you buy a membership to a political party you don't usually support?
That's what some Saskatoon residents have done in the lead-up to the Saskatchewan Party and New Democratic Party leadership elections.
Premier Brad Wall announced in August he will retire from politics, prompting a race to replace him as leader of the Sask. Party. The party's new leader, who will also become premier of the province, will be chosen in January.
The provincial NDP, meanwhile, has been without a permanent leader since former leader Cam Broten lost his Saskatoon seat in the April 2016 provincial election and stepped down as leader a week later. The party will elect its new leader next May.
Tammy Robert, Heath Mulligan, and Darren Hill have all purchased Sask. Party memberships in order to have their say about who the next premier of Saskatchewan should be — and one of them has also purchased an NDP membership.
A dual-membership approach
Tammy Robert, a media and communications consultant and author of the Our Sask blog, said this is the first time she's purchased a political membership, and she's going all out — she purchased memberships to both the Sask. Party and the NDP.
"We're definitely at a place in our province where we need strong leadership on both sides of the floor, so instead of being non-partisan I've switched to multi-partisan, I guess," she said.
She was alerted, though, after she purchased both memberships that the NDP's constitution states members cannot be a supporter of any other political party.
According to the NDP constitution, as a member of the Sask. Party, she would not be considered an NDP member in good standing.
'A unique opportunity'
Darren Hill, a Saskatoon city councillor, said he bought a Sask. Party membership because the party's next leader will also be premier for the next two years.
"The person successful in that leadership race is going to be the premier of Saskatchewan for the next two years — of course, unless they call an early election. However, this is a unique opportunity to influence change in Saskatchewan," he said.
He doesn't usually have a provincial political membership, but he describes himself as "a card-carrying Liberal federally."
He plans on letting his Sask. Party membership expire after the vote.
A chance to choose the next leader
Heath Mulligan, the owner of Planet S magazine, said he bought a Sask. Party membership because he likes the idea of having a say in helping to choose the next leader of a major political party in the province.
"There's candidates in there that reflect some of my views. There's some candidates in there that reflect very little of what I think is important. So it's $10 to sign up and get a vote and have my say."
Politically, he called himself a "candidate person," though in recent elections, he's voted NDP.
He said he hopes other people will purchase a membership in order to vote in the leadership race as well.
"I think a lot of people should, whether or not you support the party. I know you're throwing $10 in their coffers, but I think it's a pretty fair trade-off."
'Win over a new member'
The Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation is currently running a campaign called "Pick a Premier," which encourages STF members to purchase memberships to vote in the leadership races.
Patrick Maze, president of the Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation, says the organization wants the candidates to know education topics are important to voters.
He said he does expect that some people will buy memberships for parties they wouldn't usually support, but he sees that as a positive for the parties.
"You could look at that as an opportunity for each political party to win over a new member by responding to the needs of that constituent or that member," he said
Maze said STF members haven't been asked to report on their actions, so the federation doesn't know how many teachers have joined political parties, but he said the response has been positive.
The STF will not be endorsing a particular party or candidate.
Sask. Party welcomes new members
Patrick Bundrock, executive director the Saskatchewan Party, said he thinks the majority of the memberships that are coming in right now are people who are specifically looking to participate in choosing the next leader.
"I'm sure there are people who traditionally haven't supported the party in the past purchasing memberships, but again, we're a big-tent, broad party, and we welcome those new members," he said.
The membership deadline for those who want to vote in the upcoming Sask. Party leadership election is Dec. 8.
Bundrock said information on the number of new memberships they've sold won't be revealed before then.