Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Saskatchewan Party shamelessly exploit Saskatoon Silver Springs community association newsletter to push its conservative agenda

Saskatoon is home to more than 40 community associations. According to the city’s Community Association Volunteer Handbook:
“Community associations enhance quality of life for residents in neighbourhoods throughout Saskatoon.

“Community associations are non-profit organizations that recruit and train volunteers, plan and administer seasonal recreation programs at minimal cost to residents, and work to enhance the quality of life for people living in their neighbourhoods.

“An association may operate an outdoor rink in winter, assist with public meetings on neighbourhood development or organize a community cleanup in spring. Whatever the activity, the goal is to encourage residents to get involved and build a sense of “community.””
Some might think community associations should be immune from the ugliness of partisan politics. Unfortunately, that does not appear to be the case with the Erindale-Arbor Creek Community Association. Since 2002 the Saskatchewan Party seems to have been exploiting the organization’s quarterly newsletter in order to push its conservative agenda.

The constituency of Saskatoon Silver Springs is one of the fastest growing areas in the province. Located in northeast Saskatoon, the constituency includes the neighbourhoods of Forest Grove, Erindale, Arbor Creek, Silverspring, Willowgrove, University Heights and part of Sutherland.

Erindale and Arbor Creek are among the most affluent neighbourhoods in Saskatoon.

The City of Saskatoon Neighbourhood Profiles – 8th edition, July 2007 shows that Erindale, with a population of 4,359, has the sixth highest average family income in the city at $91,243. The Housing Affordability Index for the area is 0.69. (This measure is an index of average household income for Saskatoon compared to the average house price for each neighbourhood. An index number above 1.0, for example, indicates house prices that are relatively more affordable than the city as a whole. Less than 1.0 represents relatively less affordable.)

Arbor Creek, with a population of 4,654, has the second highest average income in Saskatoon at $99,489 and a Housing Affordability Index of 0.65.

While the large majority of associations in the city appear to draw the line at paid political advertising in its newsletters – particularly prior to provincial elections – Erindale-Arbor Creek seems to have gone considerably above and beyond that with its publishing of a regular column by Saskatchewan Party MLA Ken Cheveldayoff.

Prior to being elected in November 2003, Cheveldayoff worked with Western Economic Diversification as a senior business advisor. He is also apparently the majority shareholder in K & K Cheveldayoff Holdings Ltd. a real estate company developing several Saskatoon properties.

Cheveldayoff’s conservative roots run deep. He was once a president of the Young Progressive Conservatives of Saskatchewan. The October 29, 1987, legislative hansard indicates he was employed from June of ‘85 to December of ‘85 as a ministerial assistant to Sid Dutchak in the disgraced Conservative government of Grant Devine.

In the 1993 general election Cheveldayoff was the Progressive Conservative candidate in the federal riding of The Battlefords–Meadow Lake, which radio talk show host John Gormley once held.

Cheveldayoff has a long history of community involvement including working with Citizens for a North East Collegiate, Terry Fox Run, Children’s Health Foundation, Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce, North Saskatoon Business Association, Provincial Exporters Association, and is a member of Lakeview Free Methodist Church.

According to his website, Cheveldayoff is also a member of the Erindale-Arbor Creek Community Association.

The association’s Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws (May 2004 Revision 3.0) state that its board of directors “shall have power to do all things necessary for the successful operation of the Association and be empowered to…Ensure that the objectives of the Association are carried out and that the Association operates on a non-political, non-sectarian basis.”

The objectives of the association include: To promote and assist in the development of the education, recreational, and social well-being of the residents within the designated boundaries; to encourage a sense of community awareness and to work to improve the quality of life of the people in the neighborhood; and to promote, develop, and organize recreational, educational, and social programs, facilities.

According to its financial statements the association appears to have received public money in the form of grants for $3,229 in 2006, $3,729 in 2005 and $3,229 in 2004 from the City of Saskatoon.

The Saskatchewan Party has had a continuing presence in the association’s newsletter since at least the summer of 2002 when a full-page advertisement trolling for new members was published. In the summer of 2004 the Saskatchewan Party Saskatoon Silver Springs Constituency Association paid for a full-page message by leader Brad Wall promoting the party. In spring 2005 yet another ad was published asking members to renew their Saskatchewan Party Memberships. And the list goes on. How this activity might be considered “non-political” is puzzling.

Since the spring of 2004, a column by Cheveldayoff appears to have been a regular feature in the Erindale-Arbor Creek Community Association newsletter. The majority of the time the articles seemed to have little to do with Saskatoon Silver Springs issues and appeared to be nothing more than a cheap soapbox for pushing the Saskatchewan Party’s partisan message. Some of things peddled in Cheveldayoff’s columns include:

Fall 2007: Saskatchewan Party Leader Brad Wall’s tour of the province in August and the 10th Anniversary of the founding of the Saskatchewan Party that took place at the Forestry Farm, right in the heart of Saskatoon Silver Springs.

Summer 2007: Complaining about the provincial budget, Murdoch Carriere, the Children’s Hospital Announcement and the Al Gore Speech.

Spring 2007: Scaring people by suggesting that the province is suffering because the NDP is failing to manage the health care system effectively.

Winter 2006: Attacking the Crown corporations saying that the provincial government should get out of business and stop competing with the private sector.

Summer 2006: Complaining about the provincial budget and urging constituents to drop by his office to sign a petition on funding for a Children’s Hospital in Saskatoon, or for schools in Arbor Creek and Willow Grove.

Spring 2006: Inferring that the government might not spend $1.5 billion in extra revenue responsibly.

Summer 2005: Promoting leader Brad Wall and the party’s release of its “100 Ideas to Get Saskatchewan Ready for the Next 100 Years.”

Spring 2005: Flogging the Saskatchewan Party Annual Convention that was held February 4-6 in Regina where delegates voted on the policy we will carry the party into the next election.

Winter 2004: Thanking those that attended the Saskatoon Silver Springs Town Hall Meeting on November 4th and asking people to let him know if they share Brad Wall’s vision for Saskatchewan and saying “I know he will be an excellent Premier.”

Fall 2004: Suggesting that the NDP is fresh out of new ideas and providing little direction for the future.

Summer 2004: Complaining about the provincial budget again.

It’s beyond shameful that the Saskatchewan Party would stoop to politicize a non-profit community association’s newsletter so it can further its conservative pro-business agenda.


At 1:46 PM, Blogger bs said...

More of a question than a comment;
please identify the issue or issues this material was distributed. I serve on the Association and am not aware of this material. I would like to verify or have a retraction of any misinformation.

At 2:33 PM, Blogger Jordan said...

How is this any different than what many of the NDP MLA's do in publications for their community. The CNYC magazine for inner city kids recently had advertising bought by the NDP MLAs so I am not sure why this is news worthy. The riding association probably bought advertising which the neighborhood association would have offered for sale. How is this exploitation?

As far for his agenda. He is a Sask. Party MLA. The government has one agenda, the opposition has another.


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