Saturday, March 27, 2010

Saskatchewan NDP Convention 2010 - Saturday Afternoon Recap

I didn't note in this morning's post that the Saskatchewan NDP convention's "internet cafe" was shut down after last night - hence the limited posting today. (That said, thanks to the NDP communications staff for allowing me to use the computer room this morning to put up the earlier post.)

For this afternoon, the most interesting portion of the proceedings (the caucus bearpit) looked to be one where I'd inevitably miss important content if I tried to update during the day. So instead, here's my review of the afternoon's events.

To start with, there was no surprise in the election of the provincial President, as Jane Wollenberg was re-elected by acclamation. That left plenty of time for Darcy Furber to give the host MLA's address prior to the bearpit.

The bearpit itself featured loads of interesting questions from a variety of participants - and no, none of the MLAs (let alone the party leader) had to pitch in filler questions as has apparently happened in some other parties. (In fact, at least five more people were waiting to ask questions when the moderator finally had to call the session to a close.)

Instead, Dwain Lingenfelter kept extremely busy by answering the vast majority of the audience's questions - by my count providing the full answer to 11 of the 19 questions posed by the audience, along with partial answers to 2 more. One had to be impressed by his ability to take the lead role in answering a broad range of issues, though it might have been a plus to hear from a few more caucus members during the session.

Among the interesting answers provided by Lingenfelter:
- The NDP would plan to reinstitute the funding for Station 20 West that was pulled by the Wall government, as well as the neighbourhood organization funding cut in last week's budget.
- On a question about the abandonment of branch lines, Lingenfelter would be open to provincial support for the rail sector, noting that the result could be to save money compared to the cost of instead repairing overburdened highways.
- Responding to a question focused on forestry, Lingenfelter raised for himself the possibility that social housing might make for an effective use of some of the wood products which currently aren't finding a market.

There were a couple of points in Lingenfelter's answers which hit off notes. In response to a question and follow-up about how to get younger citizens interested in the NDP, Lingenfelter's focus on highlighting past policies seemed to miss the questioner's concern. And while he was right to point out the Regina Coronation Park nomination candidates as examples of diversity within the NDP, it's a little surprising that he didn't include Tory McGregor's Metis background - particularly at a convention where First Nations and Metis issues have been in the spotlight, and given that McGregor's former Green allegiances have been mentioned more than once as an example of the NDP's adding support from other parties.

While Lingenfelter's answers were generally well-received, the strongest crowd reaction came from Frank Quennell's lone answer. In response to question about the Wall government's marriage commissioner reference, Quennell slammed the Sask Party for abandoning important legal proceedings on equalization, tobacco and gangs while deciding to commit public money to arguing both sides of a settled question, and got a boisterous standing ovation as his reward.

As for the questioners: while as noted none of the current MLAs got in line to raise issues, a few familiar names did. Robert Hale questioned whether the NDP would be better off focusing on the Sask Party's using the province's rainy-day fund when the sun is shining rather than arguing over whether the budget is technically in deficit or not; Yens Pedersen raised a question on changing environmental legislation to include assessment of the cumulative effect of multiple exploratory oil wells; and Heather McIntyre raised concerns about the Sask Party's privatization by stealth.

After a break and a brief election planning report, the first plenary session began to deal with the convention's resolutions. As usual, most of them passed, but two noteworthy resolutions didn't survive the convention floor: EN10 (setting a 40% GHG reduction target) was referred to the policy review process so that a target could be developed in conjunction with discussion of the means of reaching it, while PA2 on free party membership (discussed in this post) was defeated.

Tonight will feature the nomination meetings for Prince Albert Northcote and Prince Albert Carlton, with more elections and plenary to come tomorrow.

(Edit: fixed typo.)

No comments:

Post a Comment