Pitzel wins nomination

FTLComm - Tisdale - Wednesday, May 28, 2003
Tuesday night the members of the Carrot River Valley New Democratic constituency were out in force at the Golden Age Senior Citizens Centre in Tisdale.

The riding has been vacant since the death of its
sitting MLA in February and a by-election is expected soon.
Andy Renaud, who had served many years as the MLA for this area, was explaining the procedures for the nominating convention when I arrived. The rules, registration and business that precedes a nominating meeting were taken care of as Viktor Fast and Ray Miller explained the process.

Premier Lorne Calvert and his wife were on hand for the event, as they are seen here observing the democratic process as it unfolded. Mr. Calvert won the leadership of the party when Roy Romanow decided it was time to retire and has very clearly made his mark on Saskatchewan politics by establishing his very strongly held belief in the democratic process. He has won the respect of Saskatchewan people and members of the legislature by attempting to conduct the business of government before the public and the legislative assembly with a freshness and candor that sets a new standard for this province.

There was a call for nominations and they were made from the floor of the meeting, then lots were drawn for speaking order, each nominator introduced the candidate and each candidate had fifteen minutes to outline their
position and discuss those things they consider vital to this constituency. The atmosphere in the convention was extremely subdued, very much in keeping with the reservation one often sees in Tisdale. I often find this constraint uncomfortable, but as the years go by, I have come to expect little response from crowds.

Sharon Milligan, an experienced practical nurse was the first nominated and spoke forcefully about her commitment to Saskatchewan's health care system and told of her failed fight in the 90s to retain the hospital in her community. Involvement in the labour movement lead her to enter politics and now she wants to be a participant in affecting growth, development in agriculture, health care and small business.

Having been involved in many political situations it surprised me that the audience did not respond to Sharon's points, but they remained silent until she finished, then responded with warm applause. This would be the pattern they followed with all three candidates and only showed any
response during the Irvin Perkins appeal for financial support.

Carrot River's former elementary principal and former head of the Community College, Steve Rudy nominated Bruce Karras. He outlined Bruce's long career in public service and highlighted the man's commitment to his work and the people he served.

You will notice from these pictures that the membership attending this meeting are advancing in years and though there were some people still in the workforce, they were very small in number.
Bruce Karras showed remarkable restraint as he discussed the issues that concerned him. He had participated in recruiting medical personnel for this area and is extremely aware of the compounded crisis which seem to face Saskatchewan rural people; agriculture, health care, job creation and the unfortunate state of Saskatchewan's aboriginal people.

He said that this constituency needs a strong voice in caucus to pitch for the services needed in this area, particularly in health care.

He talked extensively about the need to sort out the problems in agriculture and devoted equal time to the need for government to
play an active role in job creation. He advocates increased government spending in infrastructure and public works not just to create jobs but because these elements in a society make it a better and safer society.

He said that he did not regard the "Spudco" affair a failure but felt that Saskatchewan should commit itself to this kind of development. It is with public participation in growth that Saskatchewan can undertake development and reach its potential.
Mark Pitzel's nomination outlined his academic and experiential background but it was the serious and no-nonsense Mark himself who demonstrated his dedication and love for this province and the way of life here.

Seated in the front row he asked his wife and four
children to rise and greet the convention, as he explained that every person must rely upon their support and these people are his unwavering supporters. Mark, who grew up in Bjorkdale and Tisdale is a family man who chose to raise his family in this province and he
spoke sadly of the loss to other provinces of almost all of his college friends who left during the Devine years. He said he would make no promises but would act as he has done in the past to further the aim of making Saskatchewan a better place to live, to work and to raise ones family.

With the ending of the last speech there was a pitch for money, the buckets were passed around and $6,000 collected. The first ballot
was picked up and the band knocked off a song.

The folks who would do the counting left the area and rather than hold a recess to await the results, the evening moved along quickly and Cory Fengstad made an eloquent introduction to Premier Lorne Calvert, (seen below
talking with a newly elected candidate for the Saskatchewan River Valley constituency).

Mr. Calvert opened his remarks by paying tribute to his long time fellow cabinet minister Andy Renaud. Both men had soldier through many difficult issues and also had the responsibilities of their cabinet positions, so there was clearly a strong bond between them, a bond shared by the people at the meeting.

As part of the setting for his speech he echoed the comments made by Mark Pitzel when he expressed his appreciation for the continued support by his wife who was with him at this meeting tonight (right). He quipped that Tommy Douglas had once said that he was on the road so much and away from home so often that he and his wife were considering adoption for their second child.
Lorne Calvert is a relaxed and easy going speaker who moves through a speech checking off the points as he edges from one theme to another.

He began the serious part of his speech by pointing out that it is not good times that will show how well things are going, but it is how you do when things are bad. The two years with the least rain in history have just occurred, the crop insurance programme faced paying out double the claims in any other year and despite that, Saskatchewan is showing considerable progress and leads the country in growth. He said that despite the hard times the province is creating new jobs for young people and revenue from energy production and mining have made considerable gains this year.

The premier was particularly pleased with the progress the province has made with wind powered electrical generation and how this project is going forward so that in two years we should see dramatic increases up to five times the nineteen megawatts currently being generated.

Then he explained with elation, the remarkable development in this area with the prospect of a world class diamond mine, noting that this past year a ten carat diamond came up in a sample drilling.

Mr. Calvert turned his attention to the immediate situation in this constituency as he said that he would soon ask the Lieutenant Governor to declare a by-election to fill the vacant seat here and in due course a general election. He pointed out that this was a democratically elected candidate that would be selected tonight and he would not reverse the decision of the membership as the leader of the opposition did after the nomination of Melville's Grant Schmidt. He went on to suggest that the Saskatchewan Party's carpet bagger candidate from Keniston may be somewhat less than desirable.

He then turned to a discussion about the opposition and most specifically its leadership, stating that "he just won't listen." Mr. Calvert said that Mr. Hermanson's failure to listen to his party membership and supporters, as he sited the example of the Prince Albert member's on again off again support for the Forestry Centre in the city.

The Premier stated that the Saskatchewan Party is pretty much without a philosophical base and is instead an opportunistic organisation established merely to grasp for and obtain power. Implying that this power would be used to further the cause of the individuals, rather than the people of Saskatchewan, as he linked a Saskatchewan Party candidate from Estevan who was the executive assistant to former Premier Devine but still maintains she has no connection with the former Progressive Conservative regime

He ended his speech by pointing out that only one government in the province's history was able to remain in power for three terms, but he said that banking on the things that made this province will bring that success. No privatisation of health care, no selling off of Crown Corporations and building upon fiscal responsibility.

Unlike the sullen silence during the candidate speeches Mr. Culvert's remarks were interrupted repeatedly with applause and when he concluded, the whole room sprang to their feet wanting to assure their Premier they supported him and shared his confidence.
Ray Miller thanked the Premier for his speech and presence at the meeting and presented he and his wife with a hand crafted gift.

Orest Kowal then announce that the winner of the first ballot and candidate for the New Democratic Party for Carrot River Valley was Mark Pitzel and in the two images combined below, you can see the pleasure and pride in the convention.
Bruce Karras voiced his support for Mark Pitzel and expressed his confidence in the upcoming election.

Similarly, Sharon Milligan expressed her support for the new candidate and commented on the positive campaign waged by both of her opponents.

Though I was impressed with the whole evening it was Mark Pitzel's family that seemed to me to tell the whole story. I had worked in the political process in the 1970s in Saskatchewan and remembered all to well that it was senior citizens who came out to the meetings, voted on candidates and made the contributions that made it possible for us to have a democratic form of government. But, I had forgotten all that, and it seemed painful to realise that so few people below age forty were in that room.

Anything that goes unused will become atrophied and dysfunctional. Though the people at this meeting are doing their part, they should not be the only ones who know and understand how important it is to be involved and participate in shaping the institution of government, which plays such an important part in the sharing in our society.
Mark thanked his supporters and pledged his intention to do all that he could do for the people of the Carrot River Valley constituency.

His sincerity was reflected by the warmth of the reception by the now less constrained audience, as you can see by the smiles and even the tears below.

The picture at the top of the page tells the whole story for me. A young man dedicating himself to public life and asking his young family to make the sacrifice that will be a part of that commitment

It is an honour to serve and it is a greater honour to do so when we all know that so often the reward is the loss of a private life and exposing oneself to ridicule.

But the evening ended on a high note as Steve Rudy and his band revved up a polka.

Timothy W. Shire



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Editor : Timothy W. Shire
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