The history of our party is one of women and men from all walks of life who had a vision of a better province and the courage to make it happen.
The NDP’s predecessor, the Farmer-Labour Party (renamed Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) in 1934) was formed in 1932 when the Saskatchewan Section of the United Farmers Of Canada joined with the Saskatchewan Independent Labour Party. The Great Depression convinced many in Saskatchewan that neither the Liberals nor the Conservatives were equipped to deal with the crisis and they looked to the new party for solutions. Following its first election in 1934 the CCF formed the Official Opposition. Over the next decade its strength steadily grew and in 1944 the CCF became the first social democratic government to be elected in Canada.
Under the leadership of Tommy Douglas and Woodrow Lloyd, the party governed for the next twenty years and established Saskatchewan’s reputation for innovation, balancing sound fiscal policy with enlightened social policy. Crown corporations were used to extend basic utilities, including telephone, power and natural gas throughout the province. The educational system was overhauled and the transportation network expanded. Saskatchewan people were encouraged to take greater control over the economic decisions that affected their lives through the expansion of Co-operatives and Credit Unions and perhaps most importantly, Canada’s first Medicare system was established.
In 1964, the party (now named the NDP) returned to opposition. During this time of renewal the party focused on policy development and benefited from the growing interest in politics by baby-boomers. In 1971, under the leadership of Allan Blakeney, the party took on Liberal Premier Ross Thatcher challenging him over his dismantling of many Crown Corporations, the introduction of healthcare user fees, and a number of questionable economic development schemes. The Thatcher Liberals were defeated in convincing fashion and the NDP once again formed government.
The Blakeney government was just as bold as the earlier Douglas/Lloyd administrations. The NDP invested in the province’s abundant natural resources, establishing a number of new Crown Corporations including Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan and SaskOil to ensure that the people of the province benefited from ownership of their natural resources. Saskatchewan’s NDP government was also instrumental in the repatriation of the Canadian constitution and the development of the Charter of Rights.
After governing Saskatchewan for eleven years, the Blakeney government was defeated in 1982. The new Conservative government led by Grant Devine turned back the clock on numerous reforms made by the CCF/NDP, weakening workers’ rights, privatizing many Crown Corporations and gutting the civil service. Worst of all, Devine’s reckless spending racked up huge deficits and created a massive debt, crippling the ability of government to respond to the challenges of the day.
Under the leadership of Roy Romanow, the NDP defeated the Conservative government in 1991. The province was near bankruptcy and running a large deficit. Romanow’s first challenge was to restore the ability of Saskatchewan citizens and their democratically elected governments to make choices. He did so by balancing the budget and restoring the province’s fiscal health. Many difficult choices were made, including spending cuts and tax increases.
It worked and by 1995 the budget was balanced, Saskatchewan’s credit rating began to improve and the repayment of the province's debt freed up revenues to invest in new programs like the Saskatchewan Child Benefit and the Saskatchewan Employment Supplement. The government also extended to low-income working people some benefits that were previously available only to social assistance clients, and reinvested in health care and education.
In 2001, Lorne Calvert became NDP Leader and Premier. The Calvert government subscribed to the belief that economic progress and social progress were intertwined and made decisions that laid the groundwork for the prosperity our province currently enjoys today. Calvert also led the fight to ensure that utilities like SaskPower and SaskTel would remain in public hands, winning a majority on 2003 against a Sask Party Opposition willing to consider privatizing these important public assets. Calvert also undertook a massive expansion of wind power and introduced the Seniors' Drug Plan.
Today's New Democrats are looking to the future, reaching out to people across the province who share our vision of a fairer, greener, more prosperous Saskatchewan.
We invite all Saskatchewan people to join us as we prepare to once again make history.