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IN OPPOSITION Is Lorne Calvert a good choice as premier of Saskatchewan?
by Chris Tessmer
In a word, no. Mr. Calvert, while a very nice and respectable man, does not have what it takes to be the leader of the province, or even the New Democratic Party. I see Calvert as more of a Deputy Premier, a right-hand man if you will.
Why, you ask? A big reason Calvert is a poor choice is because of the lack of inspiration that Calvert brings to non-NDP supporters. In a non-partisan poll conducted by Sigma Analytics earlier this year, only 6.8 per cent of the respondents said that the election of Calvert would make them vote NDP. In contrast, fellow candidates Chris Axworthy and Nettie Wiebe would have caused an increase of 37.3 per cent and 30.5 per cent in non-party support, respectively. Calvert, because of his term as a cabinet minister in the Romanow era, may also lose votes from people who were not satisfied by the former government.
The main problem with Calvert is that he is viewed by some as willing to compromise to the point of taking no action. One of the issues discussed during the course of leadership race was the policies of the Social Services Department. Many of the policies that the NDP are looking at replacing were implemented during Calvertıs reign as Minister of Social Services. True, not all of those policies are attributable to Calvert, but a large portion were implemented on his watch.
According to the Regina Anti-Poverty Ministry, when Calvert was Minister of Social Services, he did not act to raise social assistance rates that had remained at 1982 levels. This failure to index welfare to the cost of living had the effect of keeping those on welfare even further behind, and made it extremely difficult to try to enter the workforce.
Itıs tough to determine a specific direction in which the party is headed under Calvert's leadership due to the ambiguity of his platform. For instance, Jason Horsman of the Anti-Poverty Ministry pointed out that Calvert has been criticized by community-action groups for failing to address the actual causes of problems rather than merely identifying the symptoms.
The reality is: Is Calvert really stemming the outflow of young people from Saskatchewan by offering tax cuts, or should he rather be looking at strengthening the industry infrastructure by creating value-added production within the province, thereby keeping and circulating wealth in the province which will entice young people to stay on their own merits?
Questions or comments? Email Erin Mazur, Technology Co-Ordinator.