Tuesday, October 18, 2011

SASKATCHEWAN ELECTION NEWS: BRAD WALL ON THE ATTACK ON NDP PROMISES

Observations of the second week of the Saskatchewan provincial election campaign:

I have been busy this past week covering campaign events. Today, I was at a Sask Party media event for Premier Brad Wall at candidate Herb Cox's campaign office in North Battleford.

The focus of the event was on health care and on a student loan forgiveness program the Sask Party were offering to rural health care workers. But I noticed that Wall really wanted to talk about something else. He came back over and over again in his news conference to the subject of the costs of the NDP campaign promises. Wall was really laying into NDP leader Dwain Lingenfelter today over the NDP's daily policy announcements, which he contends will drive the deficit up. One day it's school dental care for the kids, the next day it's resource royalty deals with the First Nations, another day it's a tuition freeze for students. Just the other day Link was offering a $500 property tax rebate to seniors. During the news conference today Wall was told by the reporter from CTV News that Link had just done it again and announced something on childcare that morning. Wall looked unimpressed and said this was yet another example.

It's been like this the entire campaign from the NDP with one promise after another. At least the NDP campaign hasn't gone negative, which is a relief to many. There hasn't been any mudslinging, just "positive" announcements daily from Lingenfelter of "positive change where you benefit", according to the NDP campaign slogan.

Wall is claiming all these promises are costing a boatload of money and he was telling the media today the Lingenfelter promises now cost over $2 billion. At least, they think it is $2 billion but they aren't too sure of that either because they say the NDP hasn't bothered to give us specific details on costs.

Anyway, Wall really was sounding the alarm at his news conference and raising the spectre that in order to keep their election promises the NDP would either run a deficit, or make cuts.

Say this for the NDP, at least with all these election promises Lingenfelter has shifted the focus away from all these terrible poll numbers and terrible columns and news stories that have been running about the state of his party. Those stories are gone now. People no longer are writing about how badly the NDP is going to get clobbered; instead, they're talking about costs of election promises. I guess that's an improvement.

Eventually, I'm sure, Lingenfelter will hold his big press conference declaring that the books will be balanced at the end of all this, with plenty of NDP math from NDP accountants to back it up. That will probably lead to another Brad Wall press conference claiming the numbers still don't add up.

Anyway, there is never a dull moment in Saskatchewan politics, we have Ontario and Quebec all beat.

Last week I was at two Lingenfelter events on Wednesday and Thursday -- one was a campaign office opening and the other was a media conference where Lingenfelter promised to eliminate the small business tax. I was also at a local Liberal event for party leader Ryan Bater last Friday night, in my usual attempt to make sure everyone gets their share of coverage.

The Liberals aren't running much of a provincial campaign in this election, but they are throwing their entire effort towards winning a seat in the Battlefords. So it's making for a far more interesting race around here than might otherwise be the case.

One of these days I will link to my news reports about what's been going on in politics around here -- look for that in the coming days. Stay tuned for more election coverage right here at the blog as the campaign unfolds.

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