Tag Archives: NDP

Allan Blakeney on the Defeat & Retirement

CHAPTER TWENTY: Defeat

In the early 1980s, the budgets were balanced, unemployment rate was low, and the province’s international credit was excellent. While Woodrow Lloyd believed that “government was the most effective method of implementing the will of the people” the NDP had a high-service administration that was very complex. The Western World was moving towards conservatives: Reagan & Thatcherism. Trudeau’s massive debt was problematic. The people of Saskatchewan were getting fed up with the NDP style government. Romanow was talking about how Saskatchewan ‘dared to be different’. The NDP needed a cause or two. Polls showed that the NDP were doing too much for the First Nations. Aboriginal issues were becoming front and centre. High inflation was at 12.5%. The Feds hiked up the prime interest rate were at a ruinous 22.75%, load rates were incredibly high. Blakeney blamed Ottawa but didn’t intervene. Finance Minister Ed Tchorzewski tabled a balanced budget with not tax increases. Hospital workers went on strike but Blakeney swiftly passed legislation banning any strikes during an election. In 1982, the game was a foot. Devine’s Conservatives promised 1) the removal of gas tax and 2) a mortgage protection plan which was far more lavish than that of the NDP. Devine promised that the sons and daughters of Saskatchewan would be invited back under a Tory government. Blakeney got into a confrontation with a CUPE supporter and he shoved a microphone out of the way on the first week. The media reported on Blakeney’s temperament. Blakeney said the price tag was too high on Tory promises. The Tory’s were talking about ‘becoming so much more.’ By week 3, the NDP were desperate calling Devine: Mr. Incredible and Dr. Invisible having not won his seat in Estevan. Blakeney found a great agricultural issue in 1982; the Crow Rate adjustments by Pepin in Ottawa which would kill thousands of kilometers of railway. This endangered a way of life and many small towns. The problem with the Crow rate issue was that Devine agreed also to fight to keep the crow rate as well. Devine spoke with the conviction of an evangelist. The Conservatives won with 55 of the 64 seats. Roy Romanow lost his seat by 13% to a university student. Everyone was in shock at the monumental defeat. The NDP had clearly misread the polls. Blakeney and the NDP had failed the political challenge of their time. Blakeney did not complain or whine or talk much about the defeat. Blakeney did not miss the public events but he missed administrating policy.

About the author https://professornerdster.com/2011/07/17/dennis-gruending-biography/

Allan Blakeney & the Constitution

Alan Blakeney & the Constitution

Amending the BNA Act was a pain for Canada. Repatriation, however, would open the door to new questions about the legal structures that define confederation. The 1980 Referendum pushed Trudeau into a corner. Blakeney remained on the sidelines when Trudeau unilaterally presented amendments to British Parliament while the Gang of Six drew their daggers. Blakeney and Romanow worked as a good team despite the tension between them both. Blakeney didn’t believe that rights were protected by a constitution but by the conventions of British parliamentary democracy. A full analysis based on Christopher Manfredi’s classes. He believed that the US constitution had been misused; conversely they had been used for progressive ideals that Blakeney wouldn’t oppose. He opposed language protections, resources were the key for Blakeney. Romanow and Blakeney made a concerted effort to distance themselves from Ed Broadbent. For bargaining purposes, Broadbent could not ‘represent” Saskatchewan; he was an Ontario man with Ontario’s interests at heart. The NDP Federal wing was isolated and was not contacted under any circumstances about sensitive matter during the negotiations. While on vacation in Hawaii, Blakeney demanded written documents that he would sign negotiations of Trudeau’s constitution there. This was all very secretive. Romanow rushed down to Hawaii in order to discuss the implications of the deal: he was wore a winter coat to Hawaii. Meanwhile, the unilateral repatriation by Trudeau was challenged in court finding along the Blakeney lines that it violated Canadian convention BUT was not illegal. This set the stage for the November discussions in 1981. Romanow wanted a deal to be cut with Ottawa. A referendum on the constitution was denied by the premiers including Blakeney. Romanow conceded the constitutional veto of the provinces while Ottawa scaled back the Charter. There was a lot of maneuvering. After the gang of 8 agreed, the Charter was made law. Claude Morin was so angry with Romanow that they still never speak. But Levesque and the PQ wouldn’t have agreed on anything anyway in Romanow’s summation. Blakeney was solidly in support of the signed treaty rights of First Nations in Saskatchewan. He saw ‘self-government’ in terms of municipal models. Blakeney didn’t like the wording “aboriginal rights” because it was too broad and poorly defined. Aboriginals did not have the organizing power of women and Blakeney accused these women of being selfish over Section 28. Blakeney regretted that Quebec had been isolated but believed he and the others had worked to get most of that province’s demands into the constitution.

Based on: Promises to Keep

Allan Blakeney & The New Politics

The New Politics

Blakeney was a maverick, The Arab of Potash and indefatigable. Blakeney didn’t believe in Made-in-Canada (Ottawa) oil prices. The Tories were emerging once again with business donations. Blakeney was on vacation in 1978 when Trudeau declared he would wait until 1979 for an election. The polls were Tory Blue. Blakeney had to go in 1978 for fear of a tidal was of blue support. The Liberals had collapsed in 1975. Collver had leadership issues. He had a Swiss bank account. Knight learned negative campaigning for the US. It was an all out negative campaign calling Collver the “Nixon of the Prairies”. The Toronto Star called Blakeney Canada’s best premier. Blakeney ran against Trudeau on resource and Collver on trust. The NDP won 48 percent of the vote in 1978. In an incident in Regina, a very bitter Collver congratulated Wes Robbins on winning the campaign. On the steps of the legislature, Collver insulted Robbins’ mother and Robbins – a mild-mannered man – delivered a haymaker, sending the Tory leader tumbling down the steps. Collver resigned as leader of the Tories and stood as an independent advocating Canadian annexation into the US. He then moved to Arizona. The NDP did extensive polling during the election. The NDP farm vote was seriously dying by this point. The Crow Rate was a major policy issue he would forward later.

Based on: Promises to Keep

Allan Blakeney Uranium in Saskatchewan

Uranium in Saskatchewan

The CCF had a longstanding social cleavage of supporters against nuclear-proliferation. Uranium was discovered in Saskatchewan’s north in 1935. Uranium went bust once the US stockpile was exceeding in 1959. It was largely military demand but Blakeney didn’t see Saskatchewan as participating in nuclear war; rather he believed international law was the problem not mining for uranium. A uranium refinery was built in the 1970s near Warman. Peter Prebble was an anti-nuclear participating at the UN summit on the aggressive expansion of nuclear power technology. Blakeney shuffled cabinet when there was disagreement there was questions over the environmental impact of Amok’s Cluff Lake project. Blakeney avoided a moratorium on the issue but promised an inquiry. There was a leak at Cluff Lake. The CCF was created to create institutional protection for farmers against the 19th century capitalism of banks railroads and grain merchants. Blakeney was never compelled by this philosophy. Blakeney and the middle generation were keen while the Prebble generation was staunch environmentalists. While an inquiry net on the pieces fell to place. Blakeney promise 3 billion in revenue and royalties. In 1978 uranium was not an election issue and Blakeney won a majority. Church religious groups opposed nuclear refineries in Warman. Blakeney asked how it was moral to deprive the world of new energy when it was in short supply. The uranium debate was an annual ritual at the NDP conventions throughout this period. Prebble was anti-nuclear and angered Blakeney at the NDP federal convention where the pro-nuclear faction was crushed in policy discussions.

Based on: Promises to Keep

Allan Blakeney & The Premier Politician

Premier Politician

Blakeney is a shy man. He doesn’t like campaigning. He is far more engaged with administration and policy. He is not interested in organizing a candidate slate or campaign strategy. He was very precise with people. He did not appreciate sycophantic staff. He listened to what people were saying not what they were conveying: he dissected conversations. Blakeney had trouble remembering faces. Blakeney used to talk to himself publicly. Blakeney did not appreciate the anti-native sentiment growing in rural and urban Saskatchewan. Blakeney knew that he needed to expand the NDP tent in Saskatchewan. He delegated internal party organizing and campaign planning to others. Blakeney controlled the NDP conventions agenda tightly and manipulated panels and plenary session to come up with their policy ideas. The Waffle was being pushed out of the party in the early 1970s. The Federal NDP had removed Jim Laxer from wining the nomination. Blakeney never pushed them out but they were diminished until they no longer existed. Blakeney was a great administrator but not a great politician. He could move from issue to issue easily but never convey the message that effectively. He was not a populist leader and many unfairly compared him to Douglas.

Based on: Promises to Keep

Allan Blakeney: The Premier Administrator

Premier Administrator

Blakeney was kind to his competition Romanow who became Deputy Minister. Having only 7 cabinet ministers, Blakeney places Romanow’s people in 4 of the 7 positions. Blakeney did not protect himself with a group of loyalists. He had to rebuild the machinery of government which Thatcher had allowed to decay. He hired civil servants that were not necessarily partisan like Douglas had. He did not give out as many patronage appointments as other wanted. He wanted a clear line between Deputy Ministers and Ministers: Ministers should delegate down to Deputy Ministers, not vice versa. He demanded that everything be on paper, proposals, and issues. He also required that solutions be presented for any present problem immediately. He detested the word “hopefully”. Blakeney’s cross-examination was a staccato, icy analysis. He liked people with cynical senses of humour. He instead ministers leave their departmental hats at the door: ministers should consider the needs of the whole government. He worked on the basis of consensus. Blakeney looked to ministers for the specific skills they brought to the table; he was not interested in partisanship within caucus. Blakeney’s favorite phrase in government was “Well, what do you recommend?” Ministers should test out ideas on the public, explain policy to the public. The emphasis on central planning cause the agrarianism of the earlier CCF to wane under Blakeney. Douglas had manic energy while Blakeney was calm, emotionless and well organized. Whenever he gave a speech he wanted to know a) was the speech for the audience, b) an interest group, c) aimed at the entire electorate. You needed to give Blakeney three weeks notice before a meeting where as Douglas required 30 seconds. Blakeney required time to stop and think and built it into his schedule. His aides were told that they could not engage in small talk with the Premier during trips and he would initiate the conversation. He rarely complemented others on good work. Blakeney had high expectation for his staff, professionalism was crucial. Working in his office was not pleasant. Blakeney rarely went out in public because he knew he would have to talk to people in the streets. His wife was a single parent during his years in office. Blakeney believe that the Premier would be isolated as part of the job. “The more senior your political office, the fewer friends you have.” Blakeney got along better with some ministers but he did not want to be accused of playing favorites. Douglas and Blakeney both recognized that “friendship cannot always survive politics.”

Based on: Promises to Keep

Allan Blakeney on the New Deal ’71

New Deal ‘71

Ross Thatcher called an election for June 23rd, 1971. Thatcher was a grandiose, bombastic public speaker fighting against “little Allan in wonderland”. Blakeney was not TV friendly so the NDP played up the team strategy. Allan conferred with teachers, trade unionists and native leaders who were alienated by Thatcher. The New Deal for People was 21 pages dealing with Agriculture, Values of Rural Life, Labour, Taxation, Resource etc & attacks on Liberal mismanagement and sell outs. There were over 100 promises in it. There were not costs or figures. As expected, Thatcher attacked it which Blakeney claims would move the NDP forward. Thatcher painted the campaign as another round in the battle between free enterprise versus socialism. It was a one man show with banners reading “Saskatchewan is Proud of Ross Thatcher.” His healthy was already weakening. Blakeney charges that Saskatchewan’s population had dropped since 1964 by 17,000 people. The NDP did not use poling but canvassers placing voters in the supporter, undecided and hostile categories. Blakeney tied Thatcher with the federal liberals famously stating “A Liberal is a Liberal is a Liberal.” Allan promised low interest loans to young farmers. The NDP attacked on selling out Saskatchewan resources to Americans on potash. On June 23rd, 1971, the NDP won 45 of 60 seats and grabbed 55 percent of the popular vote.

Based on: Promises to Keep

Allan Blakeney on the Opposition & The Waffle

Opposition

Thatcher’s Liberals won the election of 1964 narrowly on the promise of opening up Saskatchewan to new economic potential. He wanted more private and foreign investment. Thatcher had all his minister sign a letter of resignation, which the Premier kept on file. He halted the hiring in the civil service. Many top civil servants were fired. A pulp mill was built in PA, Thatcher’s Trade Union Act made it more difficult for workers to strike. Thatcher made major cutbacks once in power. Blakeney had to build a law practice from scratch. In 1967, Lloyd lost again, lacking any charisma. Blakeney was pressured to run against Lloyd but didn’t. Lloyd had old ideas. Lloyd was against private capital exploiting resources. Blakeney wanted to be leader but he was also loyal.

The Waffle

The Waffle movement threatened the establishment wing of the NDP. They formed a party-within-a-party. Lloyd was a waffle sympathizer. The movement emerged as a radical leftist anti-capitalist coalition. Blakeney was a pragmatic and firm establishment figure. There was internal party trickery with a great deal of tension between people. Eventually, a crucial meeting was called ostensibly about the Waffle but ultimately ended up calling for Lloyd’s removal from the leadership of the party. Blakeney did not defend Lloyd nor did he criticize him. Blakeney claims he had nothing to do with meeting’s objective although he was the presumptive heir to the party’s leadership.

Based on: Promises to Keep