There is renewed optimism within Saskatchewan’s official opposition after a byelection win in Saskatoon.
“What this win says is that there’s a shift. People are sending a message to the current government,” said NDP Interim Leader Trent Wotherspoon.
“Election nights had sort of been bittersweet, probably, with a bit more emphasis on the bitter side at times. This was sweet. This was important.”
Ryan Meili was elected in the Saskatoon-Meewasin riding after collecting 54 per cent of the vote Thursday, beating Saskatchewan Party candidate Brent Penner by about 14 per cent or around 700 votes.
The seat became vacant when former SaskParty MLA Roger Parent died in November after a battle with cancer.
“Dr. Meili brings exceptional strength to our team, an already strong team, and at a time where it’s really important for Saskatchewan people,” said Wotherspoon.
While Premier Brad Wall suggested Meili might one day take over as leader of the New Democrats, Wotherspoon didn’t share whether he thinks a change in leadership might come. That will be decided in May 2018.
“What I think you’re going to see is a very active time within our party on many fronts and certainly the leadership process will be an important part of that, but right now the stakes are high for Saskatchewan people and we have a duty to represent an entire province as the official opposition.”
He hinted changes to the opposition’s shadow cabinet will be considered before the spring session starts Monday, not revealing whether Meili will take over a particular portfolio to critique.