The Saskatchewan Party, led by Scott Moe, has won a fourth straight majority government, making it the longest-serving provincial government in Canada. The 29th Saskatchewan General Election was the third provincial election, after New Brunswick and British Columbia, to be held in Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic. The win is historic in Saskatchewan as it is only the fourth time in the history of the province where a government has served four consecutive terms. It has not happened since Tommy Douglas and the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation were elected for a total of five terms over 60 years ago.
RESULTS TOO CLOSE TO CALL IN EIGHT CONSTITUENCIES
At dissolution, the Sask Party held 46 seats and the Saskatchewan New Democrats held 13. Two seats were vacant. As of this morning, Elections Saskatchewan has the Sask Party winning or leading in 50 seats compared to the NDP’s 11 seats. However, due to the increased number of mail-in ballots that still need to be counted, there are eight constituencies where the results are too close to call. They are:
|Sask Party||NDP||Difference||Vote by mail ballots issued|
|Prince Albert Northcote||2393||2171||222||568|
|Regina Coronation Park||2652||2202||450||806|
One of the constituencies where the results are not yet final is Saskatoon Meewasin, where NDP leader Ryan Meili is behind by 83 votes. A potential 1,656 mail-in ballots remain uncounted and Elections Saskatchewan workers will not begin counting mail-in ballot until Wednesday. If Meili loses his seat, it will be the third election in a row where the Sask Party has managed to defeat the NDP leader in his own constituency.
As of October 26, Elections Saskatchewan has received roughly 40,000 of 61,255 requested mail-in ballots. The second preliminary count for mail-in ballots received by October 26 will begin on October 28. The final count, which will include mail-in ballots received after October 26, will take place on November 7.
Moe and the Sask Party received 63 per cent of the popular vote compared to 29 per cent for the NDP. A CBC Saskatchewan article noted that with more than 60 per cent of the vote across the province for the third consecutive election, Moe has tied a Canadian record matched only by Joey Smallwood’s Newfoundland Liberals shortly after the province joined Confederation. Not even in Alberta — the province with the most notoriously enduring political dynasties — has a party captured more than 60 per cent of the vote in three elections in a row.
In an interesting twist to this election, the Buffalo Party – formerly the Wexit Party – put out a decent showing for a first-time party running in a provincial election. They finished second ahead of the NDP in the constituencies of Cannington, Cypress Hills, Estevan, and Kindersley. The 17 Buffalo Party candidates received 2.9 per cent of the votes counted Monday, while the 60 nominated Green Party candidates only had 2.4 per cent. In another surprising twist, the Saskatchewan Liberals only secured 338 votes province-wide out of a total of 385, 461 votes counted so far. With such a poor showing, it is likely that the party will need a major overhaul if it intends to maintain party status.
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR THE NDP?
Ryan Meili and the NDP ran on a people-first platform. Unfortunately for him, voters in Saskatchewan were not on board with his ideas and were not looking for the change Meili touted during the campaign. Moe and the Sask Party campaigned on their record and it shows that most people are happy with the way the government is handling the pandemic and they want them to continue to lead the economic recovery for the province.
It will be an uphill battle for Meili if he wants to remain the leader of the NDP. Last night’s results will definitely be seen as a blow to the New Democrats and they will need to regroup as a party to find a way to evolve and become a viable option in the future. Last night’s results show a clear indication that Saskatchewan voters are right-leaning, and it could be said that NDP leader Ryan Meili is just too far left to have a hope of ever leading his party to victory.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM A SCOTT MOE GOVERNMENT
Scott Moe has his first mandate from the people of Saskatchewan. When he became the leader of the Sask Party and Premier of the province in January 2018, he was still operating under former Premier Brad Wall’s mandate. While Moe won’t stray far from his predecessor’s policies, he will want to place his own stamp on the next four years.
A key indication of Moe’s direction can be found in his November 2019 release of the new Growth Plan. Saskatchewan’s Growth Plan for the Next Decade of Growth 2020 – 2030 is a roadmap for a growing province of 1.4 million people and a strong economy with 100,000 more jobs. While a pandemic has certainly changed the way the economy will grow in the short term, Moe’s plan will be the backbone of everything his government will undertake over the next four years.
We expect cabinet members to be chosen by the Premier over the next two weeks. Once Moe puts his new cabinet in place, we will see who the Premier has chosen to lead the recovery from the pandemic and build a strong Saskatchewan. Some recent cabinet ministers will surely return to key positions within the government, such as Gordon Wyant who was recently Deputy Premier or Don Morgan who has been a cabinet minister since 2007. What will be interesting to see is if past cabinet ministers will return, such as former Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart or former Deputy Premier Don McMorris. There will also likely be some newly elected members that may see a cabinet appointment.
Once a cabinet is appointed, we expect that ministers will receive new mandate letters that will inform them of the government’s direction and will guide them in their role.
BACK TO WORK
The newly-elected Saskatchewan Party government will get right back to work. COVID-19 cases in the province have been rising steadily over the last few weeks, and the Premier and his staff will want to get on with the business of governing and restarting the province on its economic recovery.