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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - September 26, 1973, Lethbridge, Alberta Dave Steuart: A curious mixture of old and new By GARRY FAIRBAIRN REGINA (CP) In many areas of Western Canada, Liberals resemble the whooping strange bird oc- casionally mentioned in newspapers but rarely seen in the flesh. The major exception is Saskatchewan, where a com- pact package of energy and oldfashioned political enthusiasm presides over the only provincial Liberal par- ty to form the official opposition in a western legislature. For Saskatchewan Liberal Leader Dave Steuart, the keys to a renaissance of Liberal fortunes in Western Can- ada are two qualities that have marked him since he rode the rods during the independence and hard work. The trouble with too many western Liberals, he says, is that they won't stand up and tear a strip off the hide of their federal namesakes when necessary. "You ask me what's wrong with the" Liberal party in Western Canada." he says. "That's the answer. It's been too meek and mild." Saskatchewan is the exception and Mr. Steuart credits that to his predecessor, former premier Ross Thatcher, who died shortly after his government was defeated in the 1971 provincial election. With the blunt words that have frequently been turned on Ottawa Liberals. Mr Steuart declared in an inter- view "It was a piece of Liberal arrogance to suggest that dis- content by westerners within Confederation was the same thing as discontent by westerners with the Liberal party. It's not Three of four people in the West voted against the Liberals in the last federal election, but almost no votes went to separatist or quasi-separatist candidates. Discontent with the Liberal party is very obvious and the reason is as simple as anything. They (the people) just don't believe we represent them, provincially or fed- erally, because we haven't been outspoken enough. "The federal government does something that the West doesn't like and who lumps up and screams? The NDP and the Conservatives. The Liberals tend to be silent because, well, we're Liberals Now Hoss Thatcher wasn't silent and I'm not go- ing to be silent." Lights into foes Being passive has never been a Dave Steuart charac- teristic. In the age of the cool, technocrat-like politician, the 57-year-old leader likes his politics vigorous, and in fiery speeches he denounces his arch-foes, "the Socialists." After leaving home at 17 for a period riding the rods and working in a British Columbia lumber he lost half a then spending a few years with his par- ents' retail and grocery business in Prince Albert, he went to war. When he returned home in 1945 to find the Co-operative Omimonwoalth Federation of the formed the "first Socialist government in North America." 29-year-old Davy Steuart started a per- sonal political war that has gone on ever since. But he has no blind hatred of Socialists, nor any desire to turn back the clock to the days of laissez-faire capital- ism. He wants a pragmatic approach to decisions, and de- scribes his general philosophy as halfway between socialism and undiluted free enterprise. He praises a few CCF-NDP leaders and concedes that Liberal and Conser- vative politicians have often tried to use the term MK-iahsm to scare voters But he still sees a dangerous attachment to socialism in the NDP, provincially and federally: "II ;s a fact of life They are Socialists and eventually if they succeed in becoming the government of Canada they will bring about a Socialist form of government, a So- cialist economy, in this country and I don't believe in it. "I don't worship on the altar of free enterprise, I don't run around thinking that what's good for General Motors is good for Canada, that sort of thing. I'm frightened by any political philosophy that says they're the key to open all doors. To me, that's religion." One thing the have done for Saskatchewan, however, is teach Liberals there the value of hard work, Mr Steuart says. "Too often, both Conservatives and Liberals don't work- hard enough in politics. They're finding this out in British Columbia and Manitoba. "We found it out years ago with the advent of the CCF. "You know I don't agree with them but they're very sincere and they work and they're dedicated. 'Now. we had to disappear off the face of the earth or gel us dedicated Learn from defeat Because of the need to survive, the Saskatchewan Liberals started learning lessons from the time work between elections, membership drives and many meetings in each riding even in non-election years. "The two most active political parties in Canada are here in Saskatchewan, the Saskatchewan NDP and the Saskatchewan Liberals." Last winter the party staged 31 bonspiels and this summer. 10 golf tournaments. Old-fashioned sports days and picnics also involve the community. "We average in every constituency at least six func- tions a ear and if we don't get them, we ride them. We're on the phone. 1 get a report from every one of the staff every week. "We're having a meeting in Saskatoon on Wednesday. That area up there only hit 75 per cent of its memberships (quota i If that zone director doesn't hit 85 per cent next year, he won't be there." The membership quotas aren't designed to be achieved easih The total target for the province this year is cash sales. a person or a above List u-ar s total He expects to hit or Next year, the party is going to hold campaign colleges lor its candidates-who will all be nominated a year be- fore the expected 1975 for the first time will start training workers in each riding. That level of activity is. in Mr. Steuart's view, one rea- son lor the Liberal's survival in Saskatchewan and like so many other things, he sees it as a legacy from his political godfather. Ross Thatcher. Mr Sieuart started working in provincial politics as a poll worker in Prince Albert but did not become promi- nent in the party until Mr Thatcher entered the picture in the late 1950s Before then. Mr. Steuart had a successful career in municipal politics in Prince Albert, first as alderman, then as mayor for most of the 1950s. Ho hacked Mr Thatcher lor party leader and at same time successfully ran for the party presidency. September 26, 1973-THE LETHBRIDGE HERALD- Something Is Happening at... Drop In and Visit Us and See Our R6VCLSTOM IN-STORE DEMONSTRATIONS THURSDAY 2-5 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. During Our Pall Hevy Pays FRIDAY 2-5 p.m. SATURDAY- 10-12 a.m. and 2-4 p.m. Drop in and have a free coffee and your remodelling needs with the factory representatives Factory Representatives In Attendance To Demonstrate The Following Price repairs. 7 Your home deserves the best. CHANDELIER CEILINGS By Armstrong The all new ceiling system now in stock! 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