SASKATOON — Voters in the Saskatoon riding of Fairview have sent a pointed goodbye message to outgoing Premier Brad Wall and his Saskatchewan Party by strongly backing the NDP in a provincial byelection.
The Saskatchewan Party candidate, public school board trustee and corrections officer Cameron Scott, was easily defeated by NDP candidate Vicki Mowat on Thursday night.
It was her second try at the seat for Mowat, who works for the associate dean of Aboriginal Affairs at the University of Saskatchewan.
She lost by just 200 votes in 2016 to Jennifer Campeau of the Saskatchewan Party.
The byelection became necessary when Campeau stepped down in June to take a job with mining company Rio Tinto in British Columbia.
Thursday’s result was another disappointment in what has been a turbulent year for the Saskatchewan Party, which has been in power for a decade.
Wall sent out a subdued Tweet on Thursday night that simply congratulated Mowat and thanked Scott “for running a great campaign.”
In August, Wall announced he was retiring from politics, saying it was time for renewal. He is staying on until the party picks his successor.
Back in the spring, Wall tabled an austerity budget that faced stiff opposition in some quarters.
With a bottom line battered by low resource prices, the budget cut library and education funding, as well as grants to municipalities, although cash for libraries was later restored.
It raised the provincial sales tax and added it to things that were previously exempt, such as children’s clothing and restaurant meals. The government also shut down the provincial bus company to help tackle a $1.3-billion deficit.
Party support has also been dented by several high-profile scandals that prompted the removal from caucus of founding member Bill Boyd shortly before his retirement at the start of September.
His seat will have to be filled in another byelection.
Earlier this year, the Saskatchewan Party also lost a provincial byelection in the Saskatoon riding of Meewasin, where Ryan Meili claimed victory for the NDP.
Meili won with 54 per cent of the vote over Saskatchewan Party candidate Brent Penner, a former Saskatoon police officer who came in second with 40 per cent.
Meili is now vying for the leadership of the Saskatchewan NDP, along with Regina Rosemont MLA Trent Wotherspoon. That vote will be held May 8, 2018.
The other candidates in Thursday’s vote were Liberal Shah Rukh, Progressive Conservative David Prokopchuk and the Green Party’s Taylor Bolin.