Progressive Conservative Party of Saskatchewan
Progressive Conservative Party of Saskatchewan
Active provincial party
Leader Richard Swenson President Lori Isinger Founded 1912 Headquarters 134-2002 Quebec Avenue, Saskatoon, S7K 1W4 Ideology Conservatism Official colours Blue Seats in Legislature Website pcsask.ca Politics of Saskatchewan
The Progressive Conservative Party of Saskatchewan is a right-of-centre political party in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. Prior to 1942, it was known as the Conservative Party of Saskatchewan. Members are commonly known as Tories.
It nominated candidates for the first time in the 1912 election, seven years after the province of Saskatchewan was formed. The party emerged from the Provincial Rights Party after the retirement of that party's leader, Frederick W. A. G. Haultain.
The Conservative Party's best performance in the first half of the twentieth century was in 1929 election, when it won 36% of the popular vote and 24 out of 63 seats. Despite having fewer seats than the Liberals, the Conservatives were able to form a coalition government with Progressive Party and independents. Conservative leader James T.M. Anderson became Premier.
The Tories were suspected of being in league with the Ku Klux Klan, which was a strong force in the province at the time, and railed against Catholics and French-Canadians. The Anderson government introduced amendments to the Schools Act banning French as a language of instruction, as well as the display of religious symbols in Catholic schools.
The "Co-operative government", as it was called, was defeated in the 1934 election, and the Conservative Party lost all of its seats in the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan. This loss can be attributed to several factors:
- the controversy over the government's School Act;
- the government's inability to deal with the Great Depression dust bowl which wiped out the province's agrarian economy; and
- the unpopularity of the federal Conservative government of R.B. Bennett.
With the rise of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, politics in the province became polarized between the Liberals and the CCF. The CCF became the "New Democratic Party" in 1961. The Conservatives were frozen out of the provincial legislature for decades.
No Conservative was elected as a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) until thirty years later when the party won a single seat in 1964 election. It lost that foothold three years later in the 1967 election.
The Tories returned to the legislature in the 1975 election. The Progressive Conservatives won 7 seats to the Liberals' 15 and the NDP's 39.
In 1982 election, the Progressive Conservatives under Grant Devine formed a majority government for the first time. They were re-elected in 1986 election, but defeated in the 1991 election, due to large budgetary deficits, an unpopular imposition of harmonized sales taxes, and a scheme entitled "Fair Share Saskatchewan" to decentralize civil service functions from Regina and privatize crown corporations.
In the years following their defeat, 14 Conservative members of the legislature, one NDP member of the legislature, and two caucus workers were convicted of fraud and breach of trust for illegally diverting hundreds of thousands of dollars from government allowances in a phony expense-claim scam. During inquiry into the scandal, many innocent party members were placed under heavy scrutiny. Jack Wolfe committed suicide when faced with the agony of possibly being scrutinized for wrongdoing himself, or having the testify against his former colleagues. The party's image was badly damaged by this scandal. Although they managed to win five seats in the 1995 election, this total was less than both the NDP and the resurgent Liberals.
Although most former members and supporters joined the Saskatchewan Party in 1997, the Tories are believed to retain a substantial amount of money, which the party would forfeit to the provincial government if it ever became de-registered. Because the party needed to run at least 10 candidates in each general election to keep its registration, a hand-picked group keep the party technically alive and have run paper candidates in each of the last two provincial elections to ensure that the party remains registered.
In the September 16, 1999 election, the party nominated 14 candidates, who collected 1,609 votes, 0.4% of the provincial total. Its best result was in Saskatoon Nutana, where Patrick L. Smith received 518 votes (7.6%). In the November 5, 2003 provincial election, the party nominated 11 candidates, who received a total of 665 votes, which was 0.16% of the provincial total.
In June 2005, the party announced that it is now taking applications for new members, and that it would hold a meeting of members to decide the future of the party. In the meantime, changes to provincial electoral laws were passed during the previous Legislature decreased the number of candidates the party needs to run in general elections from ten to two. Some have argued that the NDP passed these changes because they saw it as being in their best interests to help the PC party stay alive.
On May 27, 2006, the party held a weekend convention. In total, 42 delegates attended the convention in Saskatoon and voted to resurrect the Progressive Conservative Party. Delegates elected Lori Isinger as party president, and picked Rick Swenson to serve as interim Leader. The next order of business would have been to use the money that was put into a trust before their two election hiatus. The party has had trouble with that, and has accused the trustees of conspiring with the Saskatchewan Party so the PC party won't be able to run many candidates or a serious campaign, and thus not compete with the Saskatchewan party for votes in the next election. The party is suing the trustees and the Saskatchewan Party to get at their funds.
The party ran five candidates in the 2007 election. Swenson and other party members kept a relatively low profile but did some modest campaigning. The party collected 832 votes (0.18% of the total).
- Wellington Bartley Willoughby (1912–1917)
- Donald McLean (1917–1921)
- James T. M. Anderson (1924 – October 28, 1936)
- John Diefenbaker (October 28, 1936 – 1940)
- H. E. Keown (1940–1944)
- Rupert Ramsay (1944 – October 12, 1949)
- Alvin Hamilton (October 12, 1949 – 1957)
- Martin Pederson (October 28, 1958 – 1968)
- Ed Nasserden (February 28, 1970 – March 18, 1973)
- Dick Collver (March 18, 1973 – November 9, 1979)
- Grant Devine (November 9, 1979 – October 8, 1992)
- Rick Swenson (October 8, 1992 – November 21, 1994) (interim)
- Bill Boyd (November 21, 1994 – August 8, 1997)
- Iris Dennis (interim) (1997–2006)
- Rick Swenson (May 31, 2006 – present)
- ^ CBC News. http://sask.cbc.ca/regional/servlet/View?filename=pcs050623.
- ^ French, Janet (2007-11-01). "Sask. Tories launch suit over funds". Saskatoon StarPhoenix. http://www.canada.com/saskatoonstarphoenix/news/local/story.html?id=4a39e3f3-b2de-4bf2-9fca-8e236d43d77e&k=74503. Retrieved 2007-11-03.
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