Monday, March 09, 2009

Definitely For the Best

Brad Wall cancels out-of-province fundraiser for SK Party

It doesn't take much of a stretch of the intellect to realize that a provincial political party is not the same as a federal political party.

Considering that provincial parties, by their very nature, focus their efforts and concerns on matters of provincial scope -- exempting, of course, times of extraordinary political crisis and matters of inter-provincial cooperation -- it only stands to reason that they cannot fundraise the way a federal party does.

A general maxim in politics is that political parties raise funds from amongst their expected beneficiaries.

So it's on that note that it's for the best that Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall has cancelled a Calgary fundraiser for his party.

The Saskatchewan party has had such dinners many, many times before, dating back to the tenure of Elwin Hermanson, the founder of the party. Now that the party is in government, however, Brad Wall seems things very differently.

"I think we're just going to take a different approach. We're a party now fortunate enough to be in government, so we're just taking a different approach more sort of consistent with that," Wall explained. "It is different. It is. ...I can't have a leader's dinner outside the province anymore, even if we call it that. It's a Premier's dinner and every province has their own Premier."

That's a decent enough reason to discontinue the dinners, but the best reason comes down to a matter of principle.

When provincial political parties fundraise out-of-province, it raises questions about who, precisely, the party is working in the interests of.

For example, currently acting leader of the Saskatchewan NDP notes that these dinners -- which primarily cater to the energy sector in Alberta -- raise questions about who sets the agenda for the Saskatchewan party, particularly as it pertains to energy and environmental policy.

"When you are responsible for managing the (energy) sector, for governing the sector, for regulating it and taxing it and then essentially going to the sector and saying, 'We're looking for your support.' ...The optic here is, at best, poor," Calvert noted.

In politics, the appearance of a conflict of interest is just as troubling as an actual conflict of interest.

The Saskatchewan party needs to make it unequivocally obvious that they represent the people of Saskatchewan, and that their agenda is set inside the province.

That is the best reason to not only cancel the annual leader's dinner in Alberta, but discontinue all of the party's out-of-province fundraising efforts.

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