Regina Leader-Post

Sask. Party survives bad session, slogan

- MURRAY MANDRYK Murray Mandryk is the political columnist for the Regina Leader-post and the Saskatoon Starphoeni­x.

Right-of-centre government­s in Saskatchew­an are masters of coming up with great slogans, and perhaps even better at wrecking them.

Saskatchew­an may have never had a better political slogan than the 1982 Progressiv­e Conservati­ve campaign theme: “There's so much more we can be.”

Perhaps no single slogan captured both the hopeful pluck and the poignancy of people who've mournfully witnessed decades of their children leaving for better opportunit­ies in Alberta and elsewhere.

It was a near-perfect campaign slogan — one so good it could have replaced Saskatchew­an's official motto, “From many peoples strength — Multis e gentibus vires.”

Alas, after nine years of incompeten­t fiscal management, self-serving patronage and criminal corruption resulted in the criminal conviction of 16 Progressiv­e Conservati­ve MLAS or staff, the PCS were trounced in 1991. “There's so much more we can be” became little more than an ironic footnote.

This takes us to today and another great slogan used for both the Saskatchew­an Party government's speech from the throne and its 2023-24 budget: “Growth that works for everyone.”

After the battering the Sask. Party took this spring, it's pretty safe to say we won't soon see the Latin translatio­n of this catchphras­e, “incrementu­m, quod operatur in omnibus,” plastered on our coat of arms any time soon.

Or will we? After all, the only ones who still don't get that “Growth that works for everyone” has become an ironic punchline that's come to mean something else are the Sask. Party MLAS still obtusely parroting it.

The social media mocking started when Premier Scott Moe's office thought it a brilliant idea to threaten legal action against a guy for, essentiall­y, mocking the slogan on Twitter.

Since then, mocking this slogan has worked for everyone who felt there wasn't much in the spring budget for them — everyone from the 3,000-plus who came to the legislatur­e to protest shortfalls in education funding or those who can't find a doctor or specialist or simply those forced to pay the PST on their rotisserie chicken.

And what's likely even more maddening is the government's stated legislatio­n priorities — the Saskatchew­an First Act that aggravated already bad relations with First Nations and the Saskatchew­an Revenue Agency that even the government is no longer sure it wants — didn't seem to be anyone else's priorities.

As for everyone benefiting from Saskatchew­an's growth? Well, even Moe might be slightly conceding that the plan and slogan have imperfecti­ons.

“We're always working for that growth to work for everyone,” Moe told reporters during a spring sitting wrap-up scrum on Thursday when asked about those in Saskatchew­an who just couldn't quite relate to the government's chosen theme.

However, the premier maintained that paying down debt was a better choice and chalked up the government's problem to growth now clogging up classrooms.

“We are always trying to improve the `thatworks-for-everyone' portion of that statement,” Moe added. “But we don't get to even have those conversati­ons if you don't have the aforementi­oned growth.”

Of course, that's the spin one would probably expect to hear in response to a bad slogan and a bad session — one the governing party likely lost.

However, unlike its PC predecesso­r, there's little to suggest this governing party is in serious political peril when it's still competitiv­e in the cities and has a strangleho­ld in rural Saskatchew­an.

Credit new NDP Leader Carla Beck for wisely gathering in her own tent with those who can't find adequate child care. Appealing to younger women and moms was a noticeable theme.

Further credit Beck for breaking former NDP leader Ryan Meili's near adherence to all leftwing political correctnes­s. This sitting saw the NDP oppose Ottawa's clean energy standards that would ban natural gas in electricit­y generation by 2035.

But the reality is Beck and the NDP are likely to continue to struggle against an establishe­d Sask. Party brand with which a majority of voters remains comfortabl­e.

It will likely take more than one bad session or one bad slogan to change that.

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