REGINA – The voters have spoken and both the Saskatchewan Party and NDP will return to the legislature with about the same strength.
The re-elected Sask. Party claimed victory in 51 ridings, up from 48, and the 10 NDP seats represents a one seat gain.
“I kind of feel like I’m living in the old Alberta right now,” Leader Post political columnist Murray Mandryk exclaimed.
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He called the Sask. Party victory historic, as this is the first time the province has seen two consecutive elections with such a major divide between the government and opposition power.
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Mandryk said the voters are not wrong, but has concerns with a small opposition. He said it’s not a good thing for the electorate.
“Bigger government oppositions have a better chance to hold the government’s feet to the fire. There’s more members, they can sit on more committees. They can focus more on their jobs, and they get more money for research.”
Mandryk believes this added research funding would have been useful for the opposition when attempting to debate the Global Transportation Hub land deal prior to the election.
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While the NDP will have another seat when they return to the legislature, the case can be made that they actually lost power.
“The legislature also went up by three seats so they have a smaller proportion of the legislature than they had going into the election,” Tom McIntosh, University of Regina political science department head, explained.
“It was very difficult for the nine to hold the government to account….and it’s going to be even more difficult I think this time.”
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Across the aisle the victorious Sask. Party will welcome all of the current cabinet ministers back to their side of the legislature. Portfolios are yet to be update, if they will change at all, but Mandryk said this means they can get back to work faster.
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Even with the wealth of experience returning he predicts a tough road ahead. He said they will have to balance promises to not raise taxes and avoid major cuts while reckoning with a $427 million deficit.
“One thing that’s helpful is to have cabinet ministers who have been through the process, but what’s completely unhelpful is putting yourself in a position of having to do a task that perhaps no one can do.”