Sunday, March 29, 2009

Leadership 2009 - Week in Review, March 29

Over the last 7 days, the Saskatchewan NDP leadership race managed to completely escape any media attention (at least according to Google News). But that doesn't mean there hasn't been plenty going on just below the radar - as you can tell from my archives on the subject. And there looks to be plenty more news on the horizon.

Most notably, one of the more surprising omissions of the campaign so far looks to have been corrected without any public fanfare. Deb Higgins' original web page was remarkably weak in both style and substance for one of the political veterans in the race - and its replacement with first an error message and then a placeholder didn't do much to ease any concerns. But Higgins' full site has finally gone live, featuring all of the elements (a simple donation process, event and policy information, etc.) which were sorely lacking in her campaign's first design.

And in turn, Higgins' campaign theme has also been unveiled: "True Commitment. Real Leadership." Like the other most recent development in Higgins' campaign, the slogan looks innocuous on its surface, but figures to highlight a weakness in Dwain Lingenfelter's campaign even without offering up any direct criticism.

Remember that Higgins' political funding proposal criticized the influence of "Alberta's corporate elite" on Saskatchewan politics - referring directly to Brad Wall's Calgary fund-raising, but with at least an underlying inference that Lingenfelter carries some of the same problem. Likewise, the inclusion of "commitment" in her theme does more than just highlight a strength for Higgins based on her record of service within the NDP: it also creates an implicit contrast based on Lingenfelter's time out of province, not to mention the seemingly remote odds that he'd run for the party if his leadership campaign proves unsuccessful.

Coming on the heels of the similarly implicit criticism of Lingenfelter's original plan for a northern forum in the announcement of a joint event by Ryan Meili and Yens Pedersen, it seems clear that while Lingenfelter's opponents are being careful about opening up any irreparable chasms within the party, they're not going to be shy about pointing out Lingenfelter's possible downsides as a means of drawing in support. And with perhaps the most important month of the campaign about to begin, it'll be extremely interesting to see how much further the candidates and their supporters end up going over the next few weeks.

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