Voters in the Saskatoon-Meewasin riding are voting for change just 11 months after sending a Sask. Party MLA to the legislature.
Ryan Meili came out on top in the Saskatoon-Meewasin riding in a race that had representation from five parties.
The by-election was called after Sask. Party MLA Roger Parent passed away in November after a battle with cancer.
Parent, who was re-elected in April 2016, had served in the riding since 2011. The riding was represented by the NDP from 1995 until 2011.
Many thought the March 2 vote might be an opportunity for voters to tell the provincial government they’re concerned about the deficit, and worried about the discussion around layoffs in health care and talk about unpaid days off.
These conversations were the result of an announced provincial deficit worth at least $1.2 billion.
Many will remember the NDP’s Ryan Meili from 2013 when he ran for the leadership of the party against Cam Broten, who won the contest.
But Broten stepped down last year after losing his seat in the 2016 provincial election. Trent Wotherspoon, who also ran, is now the interim leader of the NDP.
The Saskatchewan NDP will elect its next permanent leader in the spring of 2018.
Meili said in February the last decade has been marred by wasteful spending.
“We had the best economic times we have seen certainly in my lifetime and what do we have at the end of it? Big deficits, growing debt,” he said.
Meili was up against the Sask. Party’s Brent Penner, who is currently executive director of Saskatoon’s Downtown Business Improvement District (BID).
In February Penner said he was optimistic about carrying the seat for the reigning party, despite early polls showing him trailing the NDP.
“A common thread that I hear from people is that they’re happy with the premier for the stand that he’s taken on the issues important to Saskatchewan,” Penner said.
Liberal candidate Darrin Lamoureux said in February he’d heard concern about the projected deficit while on the campaign trail.
“(Residents) just don’t feel the money in the resource boom was spent properly. And to be talking about cuts right now. It’s a big issue at the door,” he said.
“We didn’t need to build the Regina bypass. It’s worth $2.1 billion. Had we not built that, and not gone forward with that, we wouldn’t be going into deficit.”
David Prokopchuk, who ran for the Progressive Conservatives, said before the election he had been getting an earful on the doorstep.
“It’s not mad – it’s just disappointed and upset,” Prokopchuk said.
“They thought they had one government and they’re discovering that they’ve had something they didn’t realize they had –they’ve got a deficit.”
Prokopchuk pointed out the deficit represents $1,000 owed by every man, woman, and child in the province.
For Shawn Setyo, the seat would mark a big step for the Green Party in Saskatchewan.
“I hope by 2020, the next general election, we’ll have a very large organizational base and increase our membership and hopefully have a very robust platform by then,” Setyo said in February.
The Green Party candidate has heard a number of other issues at the doorstep.
“One that keeps coming up, and I think will come up to the end of time, are the roads,” Setyo said. “And so are the cuts to municipal ties. Provincial governments are concerned. As well as the cuts to the Meewasin trail.”