A teacher who spent more than two decades in the classroom is hoping he can once again wrest a rural riding from Sask. Party control.
Lon Borgerson was nominated as the NDP candidate for the riding of Batoche Saturday at a meeting held in St. Louis.
Borgerson, who worked as a teacher for 26 years, previously served as the NDP MLA for Saskatchewan Rivers from 2003-2007. He’s also run, unsuccessfully, at the federal level.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Borgerson said of his candidacy after an NDP town hall on education held in Prince Albert Monday.
“In a way, I’ve been here before. When I was elected in 2003, I was the only rural NDP MLA. I’m in a similar situation now, seeking to win back a rural constituency. There’s some familiarity with it.”
The Batoche riding was formed in 2003, the same year Borgerson was elected. It borders Prince Albert to the south and includes communities such as Birch Hills, Wakaw, Cudworth, St. Brieux, St. Louis, Lake Lenore, Duck Lake, Weldon, Kinistino, and of course, Batoche.
The riding has been held since its inception by Saskatchewan Party MLA Delbert Kirsch, who won a contested nomination back in March as he looks to win the riding for a fifth-consecutive time.
In the 2016 provincial election, he received almost 65 per cent of the vote.
“The Sask. Party won Batoche quite handily the last three times. A great degree of that was the Brad Wall factor, and Brad Wall is gone now,” Borgerson said.
“Also, people have had a good look at the Sask. Party and people in the rural areas are starting to realize that maybe the Sask. Party isn’t as supportive as they thought they were. A lot of the concerns heard tonight around education exist in rural communities as well.”
NDP leader Ryan Meili was happy to welcome Borgerson to his team.
“Lon was a long-time teacher and principal, and then taught at SUNTEP, so everywhere we go with Lon we run into formers students of his, many of whom are now teachers,” Meili said Monday.
“He’s got a real heart for education and for this area. He’s a great guy to have with his past experience as an MLA and cabinet minister.”
Meili agreed with Borgerson that people are feeling a need for change.
“There are lots of folks looking for something new,” he said.
“It’s also a constituency with a pretty high percentage of Métis and Fist nations folks. That’s part of the community that Lon has really strong connections to, and I think it will really help motivate some people who are part of those communities to get out and support (him).”
For his part, Borgerson cited three reasons he wanted to get back into politics: climate change, a love for rural Saskatchewan and concerns about the future of education.
“If there’s one burning issue that matters to me right now, it’s climate change and the failure of both provincial and federal governments …. to take real action,” he said.
“Secondly, I grew up in rural Saskatchewan. I grew up on a family farm. I’ve always lived rurally. I love the rural way of life and really enjoy being in rural communities.”
Borgerson said the key to forming government will be to win rural ridings. He said he wants to be part of a breakthrough in rural Saskatchewan for the NDP.
Then, there’s education.
“There were some really strong emotions expressed (at the town hall) by parents and teachers, and they really troubled me because my whole life has been working with and for kids, with and for students,” he said.
“It’s a cliché but young people are our future, and if we’re failing them, that’s a huge problem.”
The provincial election is set for Oct. 26, 2020.