Thursday, May 21, 2009

Leadership 2009 - Yens Pedersen Government Projection

Following up on my series of posts last week about what we might expect from the Saskatchewan NDP leadership candidates in opposition, let's take the next step and examine what their campaigns might say about their probable actions in power - starting this time with Yens Pedersen.

I noted in Pedersen's opposition projection that his leadership campaign has been based largely on responding in strong terms to existing issues, rather than choosing and emphasizing his own preferred themes.

But while I tend to figure that pattern would replicate itself in opposition, Pedersen's platform seems to me to signal a significantly different strategy in office. Rather than limiting his platform to incremental changes or broad themes, Pedersen has offered up plenty of significant substantive ideas. Which serves as a significant positive for those looking for a more activist government - but also raises questions about which priorities in his platform would come first, and how Pedersen would go about implementing them.

While the former may be difficult to answer based on his platform alone, Pedersen's consistent debate focus on Tommy Douglas' legacy and the renewal of social-democratic values - reflected as well in this blog post - suggest to me that we'd see an effort to move on a more egalitarian economic structure as Pedersen's first order of business. Which would surely be good news for NDP members who have seen the previous two administrations as too timid in the same area.

That leads into the question of how Pedersen would fare in doing so. All indications from the campaign are the Pedersen will have little difficulty in evaluating the options available to him and choosing a positive one to push forward with. But what's less clear is how Pedersen would fare in the process of consultation and persuasion necessary to make significant changes stick, which is always particularly difficult where there's bound to be a strong push on the opposite side.

Of course, Pedersen's willingness to stick to his positions would offer some chance of overcoming a strong counterattack from corporate interests. But in order to get anywhere near the type of changes Pedersen is proposing for the moment, he'd need to develop significantly in the area of persuading soft public support. And some more tendency to defuse issues than Pedersen has shown so far probably wouldn't hurt either.

All in all, Pedersen looks to be one of the better options in the leadership race when it comes to seeking to lead the province in a progressive direction. But it's less certain that he'll actually be able to persuade the province to follow - which combined with his sometimes-combative style would likely make for a highly polarized stay in office.

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