Election wins for the Saskatchewan NDP have been few and far between, but they picked one up Thursday night in the Saskatoon-Meewasin byelection.
Dr. Ryan Meili won the seat for the opposition defeating four other candidates including the Saskatchewan Party’s Brent Penner in a vote which could show Brad Wall and his government how unpopular some of his recent comments have been when it comes to the March 22 budget.
Dr. Meili held an early lead over Sask Party candidate and Executive Director of Downtown YXE Brent Penner, and never looked back, beating Penner by more than 700 votes.
Meili won 54-percent of the vote for the riding previously held by the Sask Party’s Roger Parent, who passed away last November.
Meili said he was a bit nervous after seeing last week’s poll which had him nearly even with Sask Party candidate Brent Penner. He believes though the poll may have helped his cause.
“However, what I think that poll might have done,” said Meili. “is to encourage our support to be be more involved, more active. We certainly saw people very intent on winning this.”
Penner finished with 40-percent of the vote.
“When you put a lot of time and effort into anything,with the results you get, there is a disappointment there,” said Penner. “I certainly won’t rule it out, but it’s too soon to commit to running in another election a few years down the road.”
Premier Brad Wall said Penner was facing a candidate (in Ryan Meili) he thinks will be the next leader of the opposition.
“Ryan Meili is going to be the leader of the party – the NDP,” said Premier Wall. “He’s ran twice. He has got a very high profile. I think he’s got a good reputation in Saskatoon – especially in key parts of this particular riding. I think all of that spelled a bit of a challenge for our party going forward. Even though we had a great candidate in Brent.”
Meili, who finished second twice before in the NDP leadership race, says his focus for now is preparing for the new legislative session which begins on Monday.
The win by Meili now gives the NDP 11 seats in the Saskatchewan Legislature.
- Darrin Lamoureaux, Liberal Party — 180 votes (3.7 per cent)
- Ryan Meili, NDP — 2,666 votes (54.2 per cent)
- Brent Penner, Saskatchewan Party — 1,962 votes (39.9 per cent)
- David Prokopchuk, Progressive Conservative — 62 votes (1.3 per cent)
- Shawn Setyo, Green Party — 53 votes (1.1 per cent)
Professor Ken Rasmussen, at the University of Regina, had suggested people in Saskatoon Meewasin were concerned about the coming provincial budget on March 22.
There’s talk of program cuts, unpaid days off for public workers, wage rollbacks, layoffs in health care and education, as well as tax increases as the government struggles with a $1.2 billion deficit.
Rasmussen predicted voters might use the byelection to send a message to the government that they’re unhappy with the uncertainty.
(with files from CJWW)