Candidate signs popping up on front lawns and street corners and flyers hand-delivered to doorsteps can mean only one thing — election season has come to Saskatchewan.
Premier Scott Moe announced Monday that the writ would drop today, marking the official start to the provincial election campaign.
That means the race is on, and each of Saskatchewan’s six official political parties will be making their case as to why voters should choose them when they go to the polls on Oct. 26.
Both the Saskatchewan Party and NDP have unveiled their first election ads and official campaign vehicles. NDP leader Ryan Meili stopped by Prince Albert to launch the local campaign last week, while Moe kicked off his party’s pre-election efforts in Saskatoon Monday.
“The Saskatchewan Party has a plan for a strong recovery, and a strong Saskatchewan,” Moe says in his party’s TV spot.
“Despite the challenges we face today, we’re going to deliver on that plan. It means more people more jobs, growing new sectors of our economy, it means finding new sectors to market our product abroad and it means processing more of what we produce right here. A strong recovery, strong economy, strong communities — that’s our plan for a stronger economy.”
Their ad features Moe standing in front of a river.
The NDP, meanwhile, filmed Meili on a southern Saskatchewan farm and in front of the clinic where he worked as a doctor.
“I believe in Saskatchewan,” Meili says in his first commercial.
“But Scott Moe’s old ideas aren’t working. More cuts won’t rebuild our province. We need to invest.”
He cites health care, schools, and “getting people back on their feet,” as areas his party would focus on.
The New Democrats unveiled their full slate of candidates over the weekend, rounding out their team and bringing their total to 61. While the party had already confirmed candidates in some surrounding areas, they added Trina Miller to their roster Friday. Miller will go up against Moe in the Rosthern-Shellbrook electoral district.
Miller is an elected school board trustee with the Prairie Spirit School Division, representing Duck Lake, Rosthern and Hague. She’s an active member of the NDP’s agriculture and rural life committee for the last few years and sits on their steering committee. She also sits in the NDP Legislative Advisory Committee and on the inclusive education committee of Inclusion Saskatchewan.
She’s the mother of a blended family of nine children, including her eldest daughter, who has severe developmental delay.
The NDP was the second party to field a full slate of 61 candidates. The Saskatchewan Party hit that mark over a week ago.
While the NDP has targeted Prince Albert as an area they can steal a few seats, the city’s Saskatchewan Party candidates are ready to show why they’re the best option.
“I’m feeling pretty optimistic and I’m excited,” said Joe Hargrave, the incumbent and Saskatchewan Party candidate for Prince Albert Carlton.
“I’ve been out lots at the doors and talking to people. I’m hearing some good comments. It will be exciting all the way through, but I can’t wait for the election results. I’m very excited for Prince Albert and for the province.”
Hargrave said, while doorknocking, he’s received positive feedback about how the Saskatchewan Party handed the COVIUD-19 pandemic. He’s also heard thanks for investing more in schools and that people are excited about the new hospital project.
The election, he said, is about proven leadership versus untested waters.
“The key thing is who do you want to lead us out of the pandemic, and who do you think will do the best job? Who can best lead us out to recover our economy? I believe that’s premier Moe and the Sask. Party. We’ve proven we already have (guided Saskatchewan through a pandemic).”
Hargrave believes it will be a tight race and a hard-fought campaign. While some Facebook ads and posts have already come out from both NDP candidate Troy Parenteau and from Hargrave targeting the other candidate, Hargrave said he hopes to minimize that.
“My opposition has been around for a while, he’s campaigned for many others and I expect him to go strong for the campaign. In (Prince Albert Northcote), Nicole (Rancourt) is a very strong candidate there and I think we’ve got a strong candidate with Alanna Ross. I expect Prince Albert to be a very hard-fought area.”
That means lots of groundwork, Hargrave said, doorknocking and taking nothing for granted.
“I’m going to be out working hard and I expect my competition to be out working hard until the polls close.”
That’s similar to what Rancourt said last week — that she would fight the election like she’s five points behind. Like Hargrave, she’s confident but knows it will take work to win re-election.
Local voters, though, won’t just have the two biggest parties to choose from. The Saskatchewan Greens, Progressive Conservatives (PCs) and Buffalo Party have all nominated candidates in the region.
The Green Party has chosen Sarah Kraynick to run in Prince Albert Northcote. Kraynick previously represented the federal greens in the federal election, running in the Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River Riding.
Kraynick wasn’t available for comment Monday.
The Green party, though, put out a statement Monday pledging full health benefits for all should they win power this fall.
The party vowed to expand provincial health coverage to include dental, optical and mental health coverage as well as complementary and alternative healing practices.
“It’s a tragedy what Premier Moe has done here,” leader Naomi Hunter said in a press release.
“His government has wasted millions on consultants and privatized services. He’s destroyed jobs and weekend access to health care in rural Saskatchewan. We need to look after everyone in this province, and a government that approaches health care more holistically is the way forward.”
The provincial PCs are fielding Shaun Harris in Saskatchewan Rivers, the riding immediately north of Prince Albert.
Last week the PC Party called out the Saskatchewan Party for fighting its carbon tax case while also negotiating for its cut of carbon tax revenue at the same time.
Leader Ken Grey said that is “like the cops getting a cut of the loot from the bank robbers. In the meantime, the government has done nothing to mitigate the impact of the tax on consumers and in fact, are looking now to get their cut of the tax revenue.”
Grey said his party would pay back the PST collected on the same items where a carbon tax is charged to soften the blow to residents.
The Buffalo Party, meanwhile, is running a candidate in the Melfort area, Dave Waldner.
The only party not currently represented in the Prince Albert area is the Saskatchewan Liberals, who only have three candidates nominated at this point.
The Liberals announced Monday that Robert Rudachyk would take over as interim leader after their previous leader, Naveed Anwar, stepped down.
The provincial vote will be held on Oct. 26.