Scott Moe says Saskatchewan byelection losses sent a message to government

Premier Scott Moe says he was sent a message about cost of living and housing as his Saskatchewan Party lost two of three byelections in the province.

“Byelections are about voters sending a message and now it’s up to our government to listen and to act on that message that was sent here this week,” Moe said Friday.

The New Democrats flipped two seats with the initial count from Elections Saskatchewan showing the NDP’s Jared Clarke well ahead of Saskatchewan Party candidate Nevin Markwart in Regina Walsh Acres, and the NDP’s Noor Burki in front of the Saskatchewan Party’s Riaz Ahmad in Regina Coronation Park.

The governing Saskatchewan Party held the rural riding of Lumsden-Morse. Blaine McLeod finished well ahead of the NDP’s Kaitlyn Stadnyk and Jon Hromek of the Saskatchewan United Party.

Moe said he feels disappointed by the outcome and it’s clear the Saskatchewan Party is struggling to find support in urban ridings.

“We have only won one urban byelection in 16 attempts.”

The outcome is a boon for the Opposition New Democrats, who have seen their seats decline in nearly every election since former premier Lorne Calvert was elected in 2003. The byelection wins expand the party’s caucus to 14, making it Saskatchewan’s largest Opposition since 2011.

“The NDP is not out here looking for second place. We are serious about forming government in 2024, and we just got a little step closer to that tonight,” NDP Leader Carla Beck said Thursday evening.

Beck was the first woman elected to lead the Saskatchewan New Democrats when she stepped into the role last summer after the resignation of former leader Ryan Meili earlier that year. Meili’s departure followed the loss of NDP stronghold Athabasca in a byelection, which demonstrated divisions in the New Democrats and concerns over holding onto seats going forward.

Beck said this week’s NDP wins show the party is on a path back to success. She said people are looking for something different and they want a reason to hope again.

All three seats were held by the Saskatchewan Party, but the byelections were triggered after MLAs Mark Docherty of Regina Coronation Park and Lyle Stewart of Lumsden-Morse resigned early this year.

Derek Meyers, former Saskatchewan Party legislature member for Regina Walsh Acres, died of cancer in March at the age of 45.

The next provincial general election is set for October 2024.

Moe said the byelections showed that people have concerns about the cost of living and housing availability. Moe said it’s now up to the Saskatchewan Party government to listen and act.

“It’s a message that this government needs to take seriously.”

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