Saskatchewan Liberal Party to consider name change, rebrand

A motion will come before the party’s annual general meeting asking members if they want to say goodbye to Liberal name.

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With the federal Liberal brand largely unpopular in the province, the Saskatchewan Liberal Party is now considering whether it needs a name change.

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The party announced this week that members will debate the idea of changing its name at an upcoming annual general meeting. Should a motion pass, the provincial Grits will officially become extinct.

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“Obviously, we have to think of the future,” said Liberal Leader Jeff Walters in an interview this week. “And if the majority of our members want that future to be a complete rebrand, then that’s what we do.”

The motion, brought forward by one of the party’s members, states the province appears to no longer believe the Saskatchewan Liberal Party as a name “represents a viable option for voting, volunteering, donating or candidacy.”

It also suggests people aren’t as open to ancestral parties “with perceived baggage, regardless of whether this view is or is not deserved.”

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Should the motion pass at the annual general meeting on March 25, the party would begin the search for a new name on May 1. The person who brought the motion forward was not identified.

No alternative names have been provided, but the motion states that it would “reflect the new realities of Saskatchewan provincial politics.”

As well, a leadership race would be triggered if the motion passes.

Walters explained the leadership race would give new members a say on who they want to lead the party. He said he would consider running in that future race should the motion pass.

“It gives members, and especially new members, who want to be part of the process, and even new groups who want to be part of the process, so they have can have a say on who they want to have represent them,” he said.

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While Walters is trying to remain neutral on the topic, he has acknowledged previously the federal Liberal party brand has posed a problem for the provincial party.

He said he faced challenges related to that on the doorsteps when he was campaigning during the Saskatoon Meewasin byelection.

“It was very unfortunate that even Liberals would not give us the time of day, and there are reasons for that,” Walters said. “They’ve attached themselves to a different party because they’ve had 10 years of that or whatever the case may be.

“We can’t just say, ‘We’re here again, vote for us.’ You got to show them something.”

Sask. Liberal Leader Jeff Walters running in Saskatoon Meewasin by-election goes canvassing door-to-door in City Park.
Sask. Liberal Leader Jeff Walters running in Saskatoon Meewasin by-election goes canvassing door-to-door in City Park. Photo by Michelle Berg /Saskatoon StarPhoenix

The NDP won the Meewasin constituency with 58 per cent of the vote to the Saskatchewan Party’s 36 per cent. The Liberals only garnered three per cent.

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The provincial Liberals have had no seats in the legislature since 2003. Since then, it’s gone through numerous leaders and interim leaders.

Last November, the B.C. Liberal Party rebranded as the B.C. United Party as a way to show it is “united by values” and “united by determination.”

Like the Saskatchewan Liberals, the B.C. Liberals aren’t affiliated with the federal Liberal Party. The Saskatchewan Liberals had recently rebranded with a new logo.

Walters joked he hopes his party is not named after an animal should the motion pass, but said it will be interesting to watch.

He also acknowledged it’ll take more than a name change to get votes and a seat in the legislature.

“I don’t think anyone is ignorant enough to think that if we change the lipstick on the pig that somehow people will come out in droves,” he said. “It’s hard for other groups to come to the table and they say, ‘We’re not gonna do anything with Liberals.’ The idea is not just to you change the name and still be a niche party.”

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