It was breakthrough night for the NDP in Saskatchewan.
For the first time since 2000, the party is sending an MP to Ottawa after picking up three seats Monday night.
Sheri Benson won the Saskatoon West riding Monday night, beating out the Conservative’s Randy Donauer and Liberal candidate Lisa Abbott.
Supporters at the NDP headquarters in Saskatoon cheered and chanted “NDP” as Benson took the podium. The United Way CEO teared up when talking about following in the footsteps of the late Jack Layton.
“Jack Layton created a popular movement based on love and hope and optimism,” she said.
Benson said she’s looking forward to representing her community and making its voice heard in Ottawa.
“Life is unaffordable, and we need to make sure that we have in place the supports that help people get good jobs, they can make a good living, they own a home, they can afford childcare. So I plan to be very vocal about those issues that are affecting just about everyone in our riding.”
Benson was the only successful NDP candidate in Saskatoon, with both Scott Bell and Claire Card losing their seats to Conservatives.
While Card said it wasn’t the outcome she had hoped for, she’s happy about one thing.
“Tonight, while we didn’t win, I do think we indicted Mr. Harper, and he is off the bus,” she said.
NDP take Regina-Lewvan in tight race
There were more back-and-forths than a tennis match as it came down to the last poll to confirm the slim victory for the NDP’s Erin Weir in Regina-Lewvan.
Weir believes it was the introduction of Regina’s first urban-only seat that helped clinch victory. “I see the new boundaries as a clear improvement for our province and for democracy,” he said.
At times during the count, the difference was only 12 votes. Rather than watch it all unfold, Weir went for a swim.
“It is something I like to do every day,” he explained. “I was working really hard right up until 7.30. After that it was clear there was nothing more I could do”.
But with only 143 votes separating Weir with his Tory rival Trent Fraser, a recount could be a possibility.
“That is up to others. People have the right.”
And Weir isn’t surprised by that slim margin.
“We were expecting a close finish. We knew we could win, but we knew we had to work hard to achieve that victory, and that is exactly what we did,” he said.
But while Weir maintains he will be a strong voice for Saskatchewan he won’t do so from the official opposition benches. The NDP is now relegated to third place.
“The party is going to need to look at the election results, do some analysis over the coming days and move forward from that.”
NDP reclaims Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River
NDP candidate Georgina Jolibois defeated incumbent Conservative MP Rob Clarke in a close three-way race for the northern riding.
She picked up 10, 300 votes edging out Liberal candidate Lawrence Joseph by 70 votes in what was a back and forth race all night.
During the later stages of the vote counting, Jolibois and Joseph exchanged places several times. At point they were separated by only 13 votes.
Clarke finished with 9,110 votes. Warren Koch of the Green Party brought in 552 votes.
This is Jolibois’ first run for MP.
She served four terms as the Mayor of La Loche.
Clarke had previously faced Joseph in 2011, defeating him by nearly 800 votes. Their positions were nearly reversed this election, with Joseph leading Clarke by 1,120 votes.
Joseph called this election a “real muddled up election,” citing the lack of ballots in Big River, Sandy Lake First Nation and Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation. “There was a great influx of First Nations voters and I think [elections Canada] underestimated the turnout that would be there.”
He believes strong anti-Harper sentiment helped propel himself and Jolibois ahead of Clarke.
The NDP last held the riding in 2000.