Saskatchewan returns Wall to power
SASKATOON • Premier Brad Wall and the Saskatchewan Party have made history with their overwhelming victory in the 2016 provincial election.
By virtue of Monday’s win, Wall has become the longestserving non-social democrat premier in the province’s history. The Saskatchewan Party also became the first non-social party to win three consecutive elections since 1925.
“Every time I drive around my hometown and see my name on someone’s sign they put up, my name to indicate they’re supporting me, that is a humbling thing,” Wall said Monday after voting in his home riding of Swift Current, in which he was easily re-elected. “Every single time it is.” The 2007 election, when Wall and the Saskatchewan Party assumed government, represented a drastic change in the province. Since Tommy Douglas and the Co-Operative Commonwealth Federation took control in the 1944 election, social democratic governments were in control of the province for 47 of the 62 years before Wall and company.
The Saskatchewan Party claimed 38 seats in 2007 compared with 20 for the NDP, and 50.9 per cent of the popular vote compared with 37.2 per cent for the NDP.
The 2011 election was a rout, with the Saskatchewan Party taking 49 seats while the NDP was reduced to just nine. The Saskatchewan Party took a whopping 64.3 per cent of the vote, while the NDP received just 32 per cent.
Virtually every poll during this election pointed toward another big Saskatchewan Party majority, including one late last week by Mainstreet Research, conducted for Postmedia News.
When asked who they would vote for if the election were held that day, 54 per cent said it would be the Saskatchewan Party. That number went to 58 per cent when it included those who said they were leaning toward the party. The NDP would have picked up 28 per cent of voters, according to the poll, and slightly more — 31 per cent — when including those who had been leaning toward voting orange.
Wall said the main issue during the campaign was the economy. Everything else — health, education, addressing poverty — stems from there, he said.
“It’s been disciplined, it’s been focused. We said at the start we thought the ballot question in this election was about the economy and who had the best plan and the best team to protect the jobs that are here currently and create the right environment for new jobs to be created,” he said on Monday before the polls closed.
“The other message was that we’ve got some challenging financial times. We’ve got to get back to a balanced budget here soon.”
Cam Broten and the NDP focused largely on helping families. He pointed time and again to the deficit facing the province despite years of record revenues, the Saskatchewan Party draining the rainy day fund and projects such as the lean health care initiative.
Both parties faced potential road bumps early in the campaign.
The NDP lost four candidates and a campaign manager as a result of questionable social media posts in the past.
The Saskatchewan Party, meanwhile, was dealing with several missteps, including social services providing one-way bus tickets to Vancouver for two homeless men in North Battleford, the controversial Global Transportation Hub land deal, and the Prairie Spirit School Division announcing it may have to cut the equivalent of 75 full-time jobs next year to balance its budget.
The NDP used traditional scare tactics, claiming Wall and the Saskatchewan Party will sell off Saskatchewan’s Crown corporations if reelected.
Wall went into the election with a platform that included selling off public liquor stores and using public-private partnerships, and also announced a plan to expand a patient-pay MRI program to include CT scans, but insisted he had no plans to sell the major Crowns.
“We feel like we’ve done everything we could possibly do during the campaign, including stay on the message that we had to offer, be consistent throughout the campaign, avoid some problems, perhaps,” Wall said.
“I feel confident we’ve run the best campaign we possibly could have run.”
EVERY TIME I DRIVE AROUND MY HOMETOWN AND SEE MY NAME ON SOMEONE’S SIGN THEY PUT UP, MY NAME TO INDICATE THEY’RE SUPPORTING ME, THAT IS A HUMBLING THING. EVERY SINGLE TIME IT IS. — SASKATCHEWAN PREMIER BRAD WALL