MOOSE JAW – The future of the Saskatchewan NDP is being shaped this weekend, as delegates meet in Moose Jaw at the party’s annual convention.
It comes a little over a year after Cam Broten’s leadership victory, which began a new era of stability for the party. After winning just nine seats in 2011, there was nowhere to go but up.
But since that election, polling hasn’t shown many gains for the party – though, at 38 per cent, NDP observers note that Broten’s approval rating has.
“You haven’t seen the numbers for the party creep up yet,” said David McGrane, a political scientist at the University of Saskatchewan. “The fact the leader’s numbers are even higher than the party’s is something in favour of them.”
Broten says his focus hasn’t swayed from the questions the Opposition hammered during the spring session.
“The need to have health care issues actually addressed, to have more supports on the front lines of health care, to have more supports on the front line of education,” Broten said Friday.
Federal NDP leader Tom Mulcair, who delivered a speech to convention delegates, believes the party is primed for a new wave of support in the province at both levels.
“With the tough approach Cam has been taking, but an optimistic and positive approach, a lot of people are rallying to that NDP vision,” Mulcair told reporters in Regina earlier in the day.
NDP observers say that vision now begins with branding the man at the top.
“What is the one thing (Broten) wants everyone in Saskatchewan to know about him?” said McGrane.
Broten believes his own values are what will connect with Saskatchewan voters.
“When I think about my daughters, when I think about the future I want for them, that’s what I want for children in Moose Jaw, Prince Albert, Weyburn, all across the province,” said Broten. “That’s what motivates me.”
While the governing SaskParty is well into its nomination process, this weekend serves as the beginning for the NDP.
Broten says candidates will start to be put in place over the summer, as the New Democrats attempt to attain more seats in the legislature in 2016.