Wednesday, April 06, 2022

#SKNDPLDR22 - The Race is On

I've previously noted the danger that the Saskatchewan NDP's leadership campaign - however unnecessary it should have been to begin with - might be particularly damaging to the party if it failed to produce some meaningful challenge to Carla Beck as the first entrant and front-runner. 

From that standpoint, it's great news that Kaitlyn Harvey is entering the race - and doubly so for the prospect that her entrance will highlight some of the most important issues which have been conspicuously absent both in Beck's campaign so far, and in the NDP's recent efforts in opposition. 

Just as Beck's campaign has focused on personality and endorsements rather than policy, Harvey's launch was exceedingly light on any specific policy proposals. But it may be understandable if the leadership campaign includes less policy specifics than usual in a context where the party's general policy-making apparatus is being revamped as a result of its post-election review. 

What Harvey has been willing to put front and centre, however, is her advocacy for climate justice and reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. Both reflect issues which should be touchstones for progressive activists and voters. But both have all too frequently been treated as taboo topics and obstacles to support rather than points of priority in the party's political decision-making. (And unfortunately, the otherwise justifiable focus on a 24/7/365 campaign has thus far led the party toward even more risk aversion and focus on headlines and news cycles, rather than any focus building deeper awareness and support on issues of principle.)

Presuming her campaign themes reflect that background, Harvey should thus at the very least ensure that the most important questions facing both the NDP and the province are subject to some meaningful thought in the course of the leadership race. And I wouldn't be entirely surprised if the opportunity to organize for climate justice through the leadership campaign helps propel Harvey to a far stronger result than would be expected based on the candidates' public profiles to date. 

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