Friday, October 17, 2008

Calvert stepping down as leader of Sask. NDP

In spite of drifting steadily to the right Calvert finally lost to the even further right Sask. Party under Brad Wall. The pioneering CCF province is now firmly in the grip of reactionaries. The NDP does not even have a Federal Seat. Federally the NDP is doing better in Alberta! Of course if we had proportional represenation the story would be different. However many Canadians love to vote for Harper and vote down proportional representation it would seem, that is if they bother to vote at all.

This is from the Canadian Press.

Former Saskatchewan premier steps down as leader of NDP
6 hours ago
SASKATOON — The former premier of Saskatchewan made it official Thursday - he's stepping down as leader of the province's New Democrats.
At a party meeting in Saskatoon, Lorne Calvert confirmed what had already been widely speculated. Greeted by cheers, hoots and hollers, Calvert told supporters he will stay on until a new party leader can be chosen. "I declare the race is on!" said Calvert, who was accompanied by his wife and daughter. "The next great chapter begins tonight. Tonight we begin the exciting quest for our new leader."
Party officials were ready with a tribute video to Calvert, who also made a long speech about his 22-year career in politics.
The resignation of the folksy former church minister, who defied expectations again and again as a politician, now clears the way for a leadership convention, likely to be held next June.
Calvert said he has not yet decided if he will keep his seat in Saskatoon-Riversdale, but he will not seek re-election in 2011.
He said he plans to retire from political life and may seek some sort of community-based work with the United Church of Canada.
"I've always sort of believed my faith tells me doors will open, opportunities will be there to serve."
Calvert, 55, easily won his own seat during last fall's provincial election. But after 16 years in power, his party was relegated to official Opposition by the right-leaning Saskatchewan Party.
His leadership was unchallenged at the NDP convention in March, but he told reporters that he likely wouldn't stick around for another election.
Those who knew him paid tribute to his political career.
"He did the job well, very well," said friend and former premier Roy Romanow, who handed Calvert the reins of the NDP in 2001.
He described Calvert as a man of dedication, purpose and principles.
"He really is a man of the cloth. He practices that, and he carried that into the premier's chair."
Calvert first stepped into politics in 1986 in Moose Jaw, where he was minister of the local Zion United Church.
He had studied economics at the University of Regina and theology at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon before he was ordained in 1976.
Calvert represented Moose Jaw South and was re-elected twice in the southern city, serving as a high-profile cabinet minister under Romanow.
But he resigned his seat in the late '90s, opting to spend more time with his family when his 17-year-old son's girlfriend became pregnant.
Calvert made a dramatic comeback two years later, defying expectations by winning the party leadership and taking over as premier as Romanow stepped down.
He defied expectations again in 2003 when he led the NDP to a win a slim 30-28 majority over the hard-charging Saskatchewan Party.
During his years in government, Calvert earned a reputation as an honest politician and a normal guy.
He took pride in being able to slip away from the premier's office, without security, to shop at a hardware store. He once fixed his own campaign bus when it broke down on the side of the road.
"He was a politician that was very much respected, had a lot of integrity," said David McGrane, a political studies professor at the University of Saskatchewan.
"There was never once a hint of any sort of scandal involving him. It's actually remarkable."
McGrane said Calvert leaves behind a political legacy that includes creating a seniors' drug plan and a law making it difficult to privatize Crown corporations.
McGrane said he pretty much expected Calvert to resign.
"He knew very well he would not be the person rebuilding the party," said McGrane. "It would have to be somebody new, somebody fresh."
Calvert has said part of the party's renewal plan must include reconnecting with rural voters and reaching out to engage new members.
McGrane suspects the battle for the party leadership will likely be fought between old-guard NDP members, and new faces such in the legislature.
Dwain Lingenfelter, former deputy premier under Romanow, arrived in Saskatoon late Thursday to begin several meetings with party executives and friends about the possibility of running for leader.
"This is a big decision both for the party and for myself personally and I want to get it right," said Lingenfelter, now a vice-president for a Calgary energy company.
"A few more days, and we'll make up our mind."
He said he misses politics and, because he still operates a farm in Saskatchewan, could easily move back home.
MLA Frank Quennell and NDP party president Yens Pedersen also said they are considering running for the job.

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