Calvert not doing himself any favours in rural Saskatchewan
With Stephen Harper in Lloydminster, Saskatchewan with a provincial election set to loom over the province, the battle over the future of the Canadian Wheat Board could get very interesting.
"Farmers have spoken," Harper announced to the gathered crowd of 300 supporters (actually including yours truly), "They're sick of the Liberals and the NDP trying to stop freedom and keep prices low for farmers. Mark my words, this battle isn't over."
Harper brings up an interesting point about the NDP, considering the tentative equilibrium between rural and urban ridings in Saskatchewan.
In 2003, the NDP's premier opposition, the Saskatchewan party nearly completed a sweep of the provinces rural ridings, electing candidates in all but 4 of the provinces' rural ridings.
With the equilibrium between rural and urban ridings so tense, swinging one or two ridings can make all the difference between victory and defeat, and in this case was--the NDP's four rural ridings were enough to win them the election with 30 seats to the Saskatchewan party's 28.
Yet Lorne Calvert's Saskatchewan NDP are steadfast in their support of the single-desk monopoly, despite the fact that 62% of grain farmers have voted in favour of eliminating the single-desk monopoly for barley.
That won't win them support in many rural ridings--at least not where grain farmers make up any significant portion of the electorate.
For the NDP, the question must be: are they willing to potentially sacrifice any support in urban ridings in order to potentially win support in urban ridings by doing precisely what his party has promised to do, and support the right of grain farmers (not judges or politicians) to control the CWB?
Or will he do the predictable thing, and toe the party line with his federal counterpart Jack Layton, and try to eke out a victory by relying on his urban support?
If he does so, and the Saskatchewan party can manage to swing a few urban ridings away from the NDP, Saskatchewan could be in line for a new government when the upcoming election finally concludes.
The political gun has been loaded, cocked, and handed to Calvert. Will he dare pull the trigger?