Friday, January 11, 2013

Campaign Update: Cam Broten

Well, now we get on with our regularly scheduled post.

On Thursday, Cam Broten hosted an evening event here in Saskatoon at Amigo's. The event was incredibly well attended, I struggled to keep an accurate count, but it's safe to say it was 50+; not to mention the fact that at some point it clearly became standing room only...

The event was fairly low key, with political speeches kept to a minimum, and I'll have more to say about that in a moment.

We'll start with one of the most interesting parts of the evening, and that comes care of Cathy Sproule (who also provided wonderful fiddle and keyboard entertainment with two other talented musicians for the event) who was responsible for introducing Cam.

During Cam's introduction, Cathy talked about how she came to the decision to support Cam for the leadership. She explained that she thought long and hard about the decision, and that ultimately it came down to the same sort of decision one makes when buying a new suit: It needs to be the right fit, the right cut, the right amount of buttons, and a rather well received line about it being wool from an organic lamb. The interesting part comes from the glimmer of other ways her endorsement could have gone, given her high praise of Ryan's book and the approach to politics contained within.

It's not uncommon for an endorser to admit they thought about the decision, but it is a little odd to heat actual name dropping of the other way they could have gone. So, if you believe in the multiverse theory, there's a world where she endorsed Ryan instead of Cam. However, in our reality, she has endorsed Cam and that comes back to her analogy of Cam being the collection of 'right' things needed.

She closed her introduction with a bit of a focus on Cam, and how he is a person who can reach out beyond just the base or "believers" in the party, and how he can talk to anyone regardless of their political stripes in an engaging and thoughtful way.

After that, Cam got up to speak. I have to say, Cam seemed to be the most at ease I've seen from him since the campaign started. He was jovial, and really managed to get across a lot of the traits that Cathy had highlighted in her introduction. As stated, the event was fairly low key, so Cam didn't spend a lot of time speaking to the crowd as a whole. For the small speech that he did give, he stayed mostly on his campaign's theme of getting the NDP house in order and launching into the next election from a place of strength. He talked a bit about his themes of making membership matter, of ensuring people are involved in the party through the policy process, electing more women, and of electing a leader that is principled and ready to lead from day one.

After Cam's speech, there was a brief Q & A section. As per usual, questions are BOLDED while answers are in normal formatting. Also, since I can only write so fast, the questions and answers are not verbatim.

Rural municipalities are running out of money; last year, we raised taxes by 20% and we can't do that again. SARM is telling us that the provincial government won't provide more money, and are suggesting instead that we borrow the money needed. With you as leader, what can we expect to address this situation?

We need the correct partnership between various levels of government, for starters. Part of the problem is that we've seen the Saskatchewan Party downshift debt and costs onto various organizations and municipalities in order to make their own financial picture look rosier. For example, with the University of Saskatchewan, we saw the government back out of funding for the health sciences building leaving the university to deal with these millions of dollars of shortfall. We need transparency, but we also need to improve our relationship with rural areas. When we come to government, we need the right relationship with municipalities and rural areas. But what we're also seeing is change in some of these areas. When this government was first elected, people seemed unwilling to come forward and speak out about these kinds of issues. That is changing and more and more people are starting to speak out, and that gives us a great opportunity to start these discussions.

What can you tell us about the Lethbridge Declaration?

It's a good conversation, that's starting at the Federal level about building the party's fortunes here on the Prairies. It's important to the leadership here as well, as we need to reach out to existing members and grow our support provincially. We need a leader who can welcome people into the party and facilitate helping people who want to have an impact in the party do so, and that's part of what the Lethbridge Declaration is trying to achieve.

I did say the Q & A section was brief, as those were the only two questions that were asked. As stated, the event was fairly low key, and there seemed to be a greater focus on the event being more about NDPers being together for an evening rather than it being a campaign event.

All in all, I think it was a good event for Cam's campaign; it felt more like a night out with friends than a political campaign event, and I think that sort of approach will serve the campaign well.

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