The NDP has a problem. After the dizzying heights of their improbable, almost accidental, election victory in Alberta, things have not gone as planned. The NDP government in Manitoba descended into organizational chaos. They failed to win a federal election they felt they were poised to win. Their governance in Alberta descended into a malaise.
Now with an election underway in Saskatchewan, they’ve found themselves forced to drop four candidates in four days for inappropriate, boorish, and just plain vicious social media posts. Four candidates dropped in three days.
Starting out the election against a governing Saskatchewan Party whose support among voters stands at greater than 50%, the NDP needed a miracle to win this election. Their candidates haven’t been doing themselves any favours in this regard. So in their desperation, they’ve seized upon the detail that three Saskatchewan Party candidates have priors for Driving Under the Influence – the most recent of which was 15 years ago.
Even before it was revealed that two NDP candidates also had DUI priors, the NDP had a problem on its hands: a problem with its narrative. That problem goes back to the Brent Dancey debacle.
In 2015, the Alberta NDP hired Brent Dancey, who had been working for the Sellinger government in Manitoba, as a political staffer. He has worked as an NDP political staffer going all the way back to Saskatchewan. In 1993, Dancey participated in a vicious swarm attack which sent a man to hospital. Dancey spent some time in jail for his actions, but was pardoned in 2005. Records of his conviction were obtained by Ezra Levant after Dancey went to work in Alberta’s department of the Status of Women. The NDP were actually angrier that anyone had found out about Dancey’s violent history than by the violence itself.
The NDP argued that Dancey had served his sentence and kept his nose clean for long enough after the offense to warrant a pardon. They insisted all should have been forgiven. For the most part they were right, although someone with Dancey’s violent history going to work in the Department of the Status of Women – a department that must concern itself with, among other things, issues surrounding domestic violence – certainly confronted them with certain optical issues.
Each of the Saskatchewan Party candidates have kept their noses clean for longer than Mr Dancey did before he received his pardon. But somehow that detail isn’t compelling to the NDP any longer. Perhaps much of that has to do with the detail that they have an election to try to win which, looking at it realistically, they’re extremely unlikely to win. That desperation certainly won’t erase their arguments in support of Brent Dancey, and those arguments will certainly haunt them now
After all, in trying to decide which politician deserves a second chance and which doesn’t, “he got a pardon” is actually a pretty thin answer. If Brent Dancey deserved a second chance, so do any of these Saskatchewan Party candidates.