Saturday, November 17, 2012

#skndpldr Roundup

A few observations about the Saskatchewan NDP leadership race in advance of tonight's first debate...

The main news over the past week has involved the release of the candidates' October donation and expense numbers - which have been documented by Alice Funke and Joe Couture among others. But the most noteworthy number looks to be Trent Wotherspoon's expense total - and not merely because it makes his the sole campaign to be carrying a debt at the end of October.

While we don't yet have a breakdown of what Wotherspoon has purchased with his $47,977.10 in expenses, that total already represents a quarter of the $200,000 Wotherspoon's campaign is entitled to spend over the entire campaign period - again, before a single debate has been held, let alone any opportunity to put money toward voting infrastructure. And it's not yet clear what return Wotherspoon can expect from his high expense total so far.

Wotherspoon did generate some more positive news with the release of his policy on democratic reform and citizen engagement. And while bans on corporate and union donations, more accessible voting and a focus on open government may make for relatively familiar issues, Wotherspoon is offering a couple of highly significant proposals as to how to engage with and support Saskatchewan's First Nations population:

  • Hold an annual meeting between the provincial cabinet and the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nation leaders.
  • Formally endorse the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The former looks particularly noteworthy by analogy to the developing pattern of joint cabinet meetings between provincial governments. In effect, Wotherspoon looks to be proposing to extend a similar level of respect to FSIN's leaders - which may make for an important point of discussion as the province works on ensuring aboriginal citizens play a part in Saskatchewan's development.

The other major policy release was Ryan Meili's plan for labour. Meili's main theme looks to be one of equity and protection for all workers - with pay equity extended to the private sector and to additional disadvantaged groups, while labour and social policy protections are extended to all workers (in contrast to the numerous exceptions that are currently enshrined in law, as well as the massive loophole for temporary foreign workers who have no means to enforce rights against employers who have final say over their ability to stay in Canada).

On the commentary front, Jason juxtaposed recent Youtube offerings from each of the campaigns, while John Warnock placed the current campaign into a historical context. And the main source for continuously updated discussion of the campaign continues to be Scott Stelmaschuk's blog.

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