I got to know and like Dave McGrane in the Saskatchewan Young New Democrats, but the following assessment misses the mark:
McGrane, an assistant professor at St. Thomas More College, said the NDP’s defeat was a product of failing to connect with rural Saskatchewan, poor political marketing and outdated policies.
“People had no idea what the NDP were going for,” he said.
NDP leader Dwain Lingenfelter trumped in the final day of the campaign the party’s policies and platform as ideas former NDP premier Allan Blakeney “would be proud of.”
“Those are policies from the 1970s and they should stay in the 1970s,” McGrane said.
. . .
McGrane said the NDP needs “to fight the Sask. Party on its own ground” as the party has become centrist and appeals to a broader base under Wall.
. . .
“If they try to change people’s minds, they’ll lose,” McGrane said. “They need to offer Brad Wall-light instead of creating a divergent platform.”
Party policy should always be open to debate, but dismissing policy as being from the 1970s is not much of an argument. Should 1960s policies like medicare stay in the 1960s?
The political centre is, by definition, somewhere between oneself and one’s political opponents. In a two-party system, trying to occupy the centre is a mug’s game.
Of course, the Sask Party took power by moderating itself and avoiding major policy debates with New Democrats on contentious issues like privatization. However, it did so after 16 years of NDP government, when “time for a change” was enough to win.
The same strategy would not have worked against the Sask Party government after just four years and is unlikely to work four years from now. The only way to effectively challenge a relatively new government is to stake out policy differences.
Finally, why would anyone vote for “Brad Wall-light” when they can vote for Brad Wall? The NDP needs to provide an alternative, not an imitation.