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Sask Party leadership needs TV debate

Posted on September 19, 2017 by Maple Creek

Murray Mandryk

Many view this is a bizarre way to select the next premier.
At issue is the replacement of Premier Brad Wall through the Saskatchewan Party leadership process that will end with the results of a preferential, mail-in ballot disclosed at a Jan. 27 convention in Saskatoon.
What seems to annoy many non-party members the most is that the Premier for the next three years will only be only determined by Sask. Party members.
While this certainly contrasts with the American system, let us recognize that our parliamentary system of government is different and the U.S. presidential vote has its own flaws.
As they say, no democratic system is perfect, but it’s better than the alternative.
As for the specific methodology the Sask. Party has chosen to select the next Premier, it does afford a provincewide selection of people to make the choice.
That would seem more democratic than either the old Canadian delegate leadership convention or the British system where the leader is chosen only by MPs.
Moreover, let us recognized that in our particular parliamentary system, the premier’s seat is just one seat in our assembly. That means that only one out of every 61 voters gets a chance the premier to vote or not vote for the premier, anyway.
But if we deem it fair in that only party members get to choose the leader, it is also only fair that the rest of us are entitled to all the factual and relevant information that is available.
In fact, getting that information free of spin from vested interests is also critical to Sask. Party members making a better, more informed decision.
And the problem with a closed-to-party-members-vote is that it is that the limited numbers of those eligible to vote are that much more susceptible to rumour, spin and innuendo. It can be unfair to everyone, including the candidates themselves.
For example, leadership hopeful Scott Moe recently found it necessary to address a grid road accident 20 years ago that claimed one life.
Moe was at-fault for and was charged with a traffic moving violation but not a Criminal Code violation.
However, what may be most intriguing is that it was brought to the media’s attention now as Moe seeks the leadership.
Moe said he doesn’t “know where the story” but insisted he never made any attempt to hide the accident.
Of course, there is nothing with reporters reporting on such a matter. Even if it was accident two decades ago when he was 23 years old, Sask. Party voters and others have a right to know about it and make their own judgments.
But that it would anonymously emerge now suspiciously raises the possibly that someone with vested interests in another leadership camp wanted it out there to sway Sask. Party voters.
If so, it appears that the mission may have been accomplished.
Of course, some might suggest that’s just what happens in the sometimes-not-so-nice world of politics. But we are choosing a premier, so maybe we need more clarity.
Since nothing disinfects like sunshine, we should have a provincewide televised debate so everyone gets to see who they think may make the best premier based on their policies and presentations.
It would Moe and the other candidates a forum to directly debate policies and address issues whatever issues they so choose.
Yes, the party says it will hold four to six regional debates. But given that nominations don’t close until late November and given that there will be Christmas and part of a fall sitting before the January vote, such debates might not happen or might not get much attention.
We may not all get to vote, but should all get to see and hear what our next premier has to say.

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