A teacher will be going up against incumbent Sask. Party MLA Joe Hargrave in the 2020 provincial election.
Thursday night the NDP announced Troy Parenteau as the winner of the party’s nomination for the Prince Albert Carlton riding. He had gone up against certified mediator and community development facilitator Harmony Johnson-Harder.
Parenteau is a teacher who, in a press release, said he was “proud” to stand “against the devastating cuts we’ve seen to our classrooms.”
Parenteau was born and raised in Prince Albert and currently teaches children in mental health and addictions treatment centres. He has served on several boards and committees, including the Urban Aboriginal Strategy, Urban Multipurpose Youth Activity Centred, Prince Albert Pride, Prince Albert Community Players, the friendship centre and the Impact Youth Conference for Sustainability.
“It feels absolutely amazing,” Parenteau said by phone Friday.
“It’s something I’ve wanted for a long time. I put my name forward in December, and last night felt pretty good.”
Parenteau was chosen as the candidate by members of the Prince Albert Carlton NDP, beating out fellow potential nominee Harmony Johnson-Harder. It was the opposite of a heated race, with both nomination contestants appearing together in public at several events.
“These kinds of contests aren’t about winners and losers, but about putting your best self forward,” Parenteau said.
Johnson-Harder wasn’t available for comment.
Now that he knows he’s the NDP’s candidate in the Carlton riding, Parenteau will start preparing for the 2020 election. He’s up against a tough opponent in cabinet minister and Sask. Party incumbent Joe Hargrave. Parenteau, though, sees some weaknesses in his political opponent.
“There are definitely some challenges, there is some name recognition but Joe Hargrave also comes with a little bit of baggage,” Parenteau said.
“He was the minister in charge of some of the biggest cuts our province has seen, including STC. So on one hand, while there are some challenges, there is also an advantage somewhat in Prince Albert Carlton.”
NDP leader Ryan Meili, who spoke at the nomination meeting, agreed. He said issues like STC still resonate with people in Prince Albert.
Meili also thinks that Parenteau is a strong candidate who can win in this riding, in part because of his track record of hard work.
“Troy is a terrific candidate,” the NDP leader said.
‘In particular, I like that he’s a teacher. With the situation we’ve got in Saskatchewan with more crowded classrooms and more challenges in our classrooms, and a government that has been cutting funds in education, it’s really important to have teacher stepping up and telling their story.”
Two years ago, the Sask. Party cut $50 million from the education budget. They have since restored much of that funding, but critics say that compared to before the cut, per-student spending is still well below what it once was.
“Boards of education across our province usually are looking for the best outcomes they can for students, but right now they’re being asked to do more with less, and it’s just not as possible as it was before,” Parenteau said. “being a teacher, I’ve seen these cuts. I’ve heard stories of people from Prince Albert moving to B.C. or moving to Alberta, and that’s not right. People need to feel supported here in Prince Albert.”
Parenteau said that if he wants to win next year, he’ll have to keep working as hard as he has over the last three years. He has been gathering signatures on petitions, reaching out to constituents and attending policy conventions, trying to be a voice of opposition in the city, he said.
Seeing so many people in the room Thursday night gives him the confidence he needs going forward. This summer, he’ll be canvassing the riding, meeting with constituents on their doorsteps, hearing from them and spreading his party’s message.
“Ever since 2016, there has been a lot of energy around us,” Parenteau said.
“The Sask Party didn’t release a budget until after the election, and it was bad news budget after bad news budget. We are more ready now than we’ve ever been in Prince Albert Carlton to turn it orange again.”