The Saskatchewan Party cruised to an early election night victory Monday with major networks Global and CBC declaring a majority government less than an hour after polls closed.
That outcome was rarely in doubt, with the Saskatchewan Party coming off a dominant 2016 election where they earned 51 of 61 seats, and with Premier Scott Moe’s popularity rating among the highest of Canada’s premiers.
The win, though, wasn’t as strong as four years prior, as the NDP was able to squirrel some urban votes away from the Saskatchewan Party opponents.
Whether it was a victory for the opposition party depends on your definition.
They were elected or leading in 13 ridings as of press time, a 30 per cent improvement over the previous year’s results.
The NDP’s wins were all in urban centres, with Regina and Saskatoon sending opposition MLAs to the legislature.
The NDP also enjoyed strong support from northern Saskatchewan as the Cumberland and Athabasca ridings returned their NDP MLAs to Regina.
Full results won’t be known for days, in some cases, as large numbers of mail-in ballots are still to be counted. In some races, there are enough uncounted ballots to sway the vote the other way.
The Buffalo Party, formerly known as Wexit Saskatchewan, was another storyline of the 2020 election.
The right-wing party held steady in third place in terms of province-wide popular vote, earning a few more votes than the Green Party of Saskatchewan and the Progressive Conservatives.
In some ridings, such as Cypress Hills, Estevan and Cannington, the Buffalo Party candidates earned more votes than the NDP.
In his concession speech Monday night, Ryan Meili said his NDP will be a strong opposition. He said he hopes to remain the representative in Saskatoon Meewasin, though that race was also too close to call Monday night. As of press time, Meili was leading by just 255 votes 45 of 50 polls reporting. His riding, though, has as many as 1,656 mail-in ballots to count.
Moe thanks elections workers, volunteers and candidates
In his victory speech Monday night, premier-elect Scott Moe thanked everyone involved in this year’s provincial election. He vowed to serve the entire province as its premier.
Moe handily won his riding of Rosthern-Shellbrook. He was leading by over 2,302 votes, or 79 per cent, with 37 of 52 polls reporting as of press time. His district had only 555 mail-in voting applications.
“The people of Saskatchewan, for the fourth time, you have placed your trust in the Saskatchewan Party,” Moe said.
“We take that responsibility very seriously. We are humbled by the task that lies before us and we are ready to go to work on your behalf We are eager to build a strong economy, strong communities, strong families and a strong Saskatchewan for everyone. For everyone in this great province,” he said.
Moe turned to Elections Saskatchewan, which ran a general election through a pandemic. He thanked them, and all volunteers from all political parties who knocked on doors answered phones and put up signs.
“Elections are not decided on Twitter,” Moe said.
“You are the people who got out from behind your keyboard. Our democracy is well-served by a vigorous debate of ideas.”
Moe said he’s glad to be joined by 40-something MLAs elected from the Saskatchewan Party slate.
He also expressed his sympathy for those who still have to wait to know their fate.
“I know it’s nerve-wracking (to wait a few hours),” Moe said.
“I can’t imagine what it’s like waiting for the next couple of days, but that’s the way it’s going to work in today’s very unusual circumstances.”
He also thanked Meili, and said he looks forward to working with the official opposition in the legislature.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Ryan Meili for running a very strong campaign,” Moe said.
“We have our differences when it comes to policy, but I have never doubted Mr. Meili’s love for this province. I’ve never disputed his commitment to making Saskatchewan better place to live.”
He also had words for all residents of Saskatchewan — regardless of how they voted.
“Voting is a great privilege,” Moe said.
“It’s a fundamental freedom for all of us. May we never lose sight of how fortunate we are to be from Saskatchewan and to live in Canada. It’s truly the honour of my life to represent each of you in the Saskatchewan legislature. We will be a government for all of the people.”