The Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan

 

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Saskatchewan Party

The Saskatchewan Party has been an active right-wing political party in Saskatchewan since 1997. With the Progressive Conservative party beset with the legacy of fraud scandals while in government and the Liberal Party fraught with internal division, a group of four Conservative MLAs and four Liberal MLAs joined to form the Saskatchewan Party in August 1997. Ken Krawetz was named the interim leader, and the party surpassed the Liberal party in the Legislature to become the official opposition. After the formal founding and registration of the party, former Reform party MP Elwin Hermanson was elected as the party’s first leader in April 1998. The party soon became embroiled in controversy as it endorsed policies such as the abolition of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission. Circumstances of its birth also became a contentious issue as opponents charged the party with being a recasting of the unpopular Progressive Conservative party, trying to avoid its record.

However the party struck a cord with some voters unhappy with Roy Romanow’s New Democratic government, and nearly swept rural Saskatchewan in the 1999 election. Although the Saskatchewan Party won the popular vote, it failed to carry enough seats to form government. With a large number of MLAs and momentum on its side, it seemed poised to defeat the government of Lorne Calvert in 2003. However, a strong campaign by the NDP, and concerns about the ambiguity of several Saskatchewan Party promises regarding Saskatchewan Crown Corporations, made the campaign much more difficult than expected. In spite of an increased number of seats in the Legislature, the party lost the popular vote and again failed to defeat the government. Party leader Hermanson stepped down shortly after the loss, and Swift Current MLA Brad Wall assumed the leadership unchallenged.

Brett Quiring

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