Saskatchewan Liberal Party
|Saskatchewan Liberal Party|
Active provincial party
|Leader||Greg Gallagher (interim)|
|Headquarters||845A McDonald Street
|Seats in Legislature|
|Politics of Saskatchewan
Early history (to 1944)
The party dominated Saskatchewan politics for the province's first forty years providing six of the first seven Premiers, and being in power for all but five of the years between the province's creation in 1905 and World War II. Located on the middle of the political spectrum, it assiduously courted "ethnic" (i.e., non-British) voters, as well as the organized farm movement, and refused to pander to "nativist" sentiment that culminated in the short, spectacular existence of the Ku Klux Klan in Saskatchewan in 1927–28.
Varying fortunes (1944–1978)
In the 1944 election, however, Saskatchewan experienced a dramatic change when it elected the first democratic socialist government in North America under Tommy Douglas and the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF). The Liberals were nearly wiped off the map, dropping from a strong majority of 38 seats to only five—the worst defeat of a sitting government in the province's history. The Liberals moved to the political right and remained out of power for twenty years until Ross Thatcher's victory in 1964 election. Thatcher led the Liberals to re-election in 1967.
After the defeat of the Liberals in the 1971 election at the hands of the CCF's successor, the Saskatchewan New Democratic Party, the party remained the principal opposition party in the province, albeit with a dwindling number of seats. However, in the 1978 election, the Liberals were completely shut out of the legislature for the first time ever. The Progressive Conservatives replaced them as the principal opposition party in Saskatchewan.
The Liberals didn't return to the Legislative Assembly until 1986, when party leader Ralph Goodale (later federal Deputy Liberal leader) was elected as the party's sole member.
The Liberals came under the leadership of future Lieutenant Governor Lynda Haverstock in 1989. The Liberals were only able to take limited advantage of the collapse of Grant Devine's scandal and deficit-ridden Conservative government in the 1991 election, but Haverstock was able to win her Saskatoon seat.
Dissent and decline (1996–present)
Dissatisfaction within the Liberal caucus saw the resignation of Lynda Haverstock as party leader. On November 24, 1996, the Saskatchewan Liberal party elected Jim Melenchuk on the third ballot as party leader. In 1997, four Liberal Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) joined forces with four MLAs from the Progressive Conservative Party of Saskatchewan to form the Saskatchewan Party.
The 1999 election reduced the Liberals to only four seats and third party status in the legislature. The fourth seat, Wood River, later had its election results overturned; a by-election was held and won by Yogi Huyghebaert, the Saskatchewan Party candidate. The New Democrats, however, had only won a minority of seats and persuaded three Liberals to form a coalition government with the New Democrats. Two Liberals, Jim Melenchuk and Jack Hillson, were then appointed to positions in the Cabinet, The third, Ron Osika, was elected Speaker of the Legislature. Rank-and-file Liberals were against the coalition government and called for a leadership convention. On 27 October 2001 Saskatchewan Liberals elected businessman David Karwacki as the new leader over Hillson, who had withdrawn from the coalition. Karwacki soon ordered the other two Liberal MLAs, Melenchuk and Ron Osika, to leave the coalition. They refused and sat as independent Members of the Legislative Assembly and continued in the coalition.
The internal party feud hurt Liberal fortunes, as did a polarized electorate, and a poorly run election campaign which saw the party shut out of the legislature in the 2003 election. It was the first time in over 20 years in which the Liberal Party was unable to win a single seat. In the 2007 election the Saskatchewan Liberal Party was once again shut out of the Legislature. Karawacki resigned as Liberal leader one month later.
Ryan Bater was ratified as the Liberal leader at the Saskatchewan Liberal Party Convention on 21 February 2009. At the same convention, the party passed a declaration of principles, which sought to reposition the Liberals as the party of "Personal Liberty, Free Enterprise, and Responsible Government". As well, a proposal was approved separating the federal and provincial Liberal parties in Saskatchewan into two independent organizations.
In the 2011 Saskatchewan general election, the Liberals ran nine candidates and failed to win a seat in the legislature. Overall, they fell to fourth place behind the third place finishing Green Party of Saskatchewan. The party's platform focused on cutting the provincial sales tax, curbing government expenditures and creating a sovereign wealth fund entitled the Saskatchewan Future Fund.[self-published source?] Ryan Bater resigned as leader on January 31, 2012. Greg Gallager was appointed interim leader on March 12, 2012.
- Walter Scott (August 16, 1905 – October 1916)
- William M. Martin (October 20, 1916 – April 5, 1922)
- Charles A. Dunning (April 5, 1922 – February 26, 1926)
- James G. Gardiner (February 26, 1926 – October 31, 1935)
- William John Patterson (October 31, 1935 – August 6, 1946)
- Walter Tucker (August 6, 1946–1954)
- Alexander H. McDonald (November 26, 1954 – September 24, 1959)
- Ross Thatcher (September 24, 1959–1971)
- David Steuart (December 11, 1971–1976)
- Ted Malone (December 11, 1976–1981)
- Ralph Goodale (June 13, 1981–1988)
- Lynda Haverstock (April 2, 1989 – November 12, 1995)
- Ron Osika (1996, interim)
- Jim Melenchuk (November 24, 1996–2001)
- David Karwacki (October 27, 2001 – December 21, 2007)
- Frank Proto (December 21, 2007 – February 21, 2009, interim)
- Ryan Bater (February 21, 2009 – January 31, 2012)
- Greg Gallagher (March 12, 2012 – November 2013, interim)
Scott, Martin and Dunning were Premiers for the duration of their party's leadership. Patterson was Premier for all but 2 years of his leadership. Thatcher became Premier after 5 years as the Leader of the Opposition and remained leader until the end of his Premiership.
- Saskatchewan Liberal Party leadership conventions
- List of Saskatchewan political parties
- Politics of Saskatchewan
- "CBC – Saskatchewan Votes 2003". Cbc.ca. 2003-11-05. Retrieved 2010-07-01.
- Leader, The (2007-11-09). "Experts say it's time for a change". Canada.com. Retrieved 2010-07-01.
- "Declaration of the Principles of Prairie Liberalism". Saskatchewan Liberal Party. Retrieved 2010-10-25.
- "Saskatchewan has Liberals too...". Retrieved 2012-01-31.
- "Sask. Liberal leader resigns". CBC News. 2012-01-31. Retrieved 2012-01-31.
- "Sask. Liberals name interim party leader". CBC News. March 12, 2012. Retrieved 2012-03-13.