REGINA – Saskatchewan voters re-elected Brad Wall’s Saskatchewan Party for the third straight time on Monday. Here is a look at the twists and turns of the month-long election campaign:
The election campaign begins and Saskatchewan Party Leader Brad Wall immediately attacks the NDP and its time in government from 1991 to 2007.
“You will have on your side the proven track record of the Saskatchewan Party after eight years in leadership and you’re going to the track record of the other guys when they were in government to help make the case,” Wall tells candidates at a rally.
NDP Leader Cam Broten brushes aside Wall’s criticism as “coming from a guy that’s running nearly a half-a-billion-dollar deficit, coming from a guy who won’t bring forward a budget and be honest and straight with Saskatchewan people about what his plans are for cuts and increased privatization.”
Broten removes Clayton Wilson, an NDP candidate in Saskatoon, because of questionable posts on Facebook. One 2013 post circulated by the Saskatchewan Party shows a photo with the words: “A true gentleman holds the door for his woman then smacks her ass.”
Above the image is written: “True, ladies?” Broten says he has “a zero-tolerance policy on the issue of making light of domestic violence.”
Social media brings down a second NDP candidate. A screen grab circulated by the Saskatchewan Party shows a Facebook post that says: “Brad Wall’s mother should have taken the abortion pill.” Mark Jeworski, who is running in Weyburn-Big Muddy against Health Minister Dustin Duncan, resigns.
Broten tells his campaign team to take a closer look at the online accounts of NDP candidates and two more bite the dust.
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Cameron Robock, who is running in Estevan, and Terry Bell, who is the candidate in Regina constituency of Walsh Acres, are told they can’t run for the party because of statements that went “beyond bad jokes and immaturity.” Broten replaces the party’s campaign manager for not properly vetting candidates.
It’s Wall’s turn to feel the heat for his candidates’ pasts. Wall defends three candidates who have drunk-driving convictions. Advanced Education Minister Scott Moe’s offence occurred in 1992, when he was 18 years old, while Eric Olausson, a Saskatoon city councillor who is running in the constituency of Saskatoon University, was convicted in 1992 and 1993.
Terry Dennis, who is vying for a seat in Canora-Pelly, has one conviction from 1979 and another from 2001. The NDP reveals that it has two candidates with drunk-driving convictions, Dwayne Lasas and Lyle Whitefish.
Wall draws Ottawa into the campaign when he demands at least $570 million in new funding in the coming federal budget. That’s the amount the province will pay into equalization this year, Wall argues.
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“We’re just saying recognition … that Saskatchewan taxpayers are putting this money in at a time of energy sector challenge — recognition being having some equivalent amount of money come back from the federal government in the budget — I think that’s fair.”
The NDP reveals its full campaign platform, projecting a deficit of $189.4 million in the 2016-2017 year, followed by a small, but growing surplus over the following three years. The single biggest cost in the platform is $106 million over four years for health-care workers, including 400 workers for care homes.
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Another promise includes a 20-student cap on class sizes from kindergarten to Grade 2. Broten says 300 more teachers and 300 more educational assistants would also be hired.
The Saskatchewan Party releases its full platform with just six new spending promises totalling $105.4 million. Wall says the platform is based on a goal of the province returning to balanced budgets by 2017-18.
One of the new commitments is to allow seniors with household incomes under $70,000 to defer the education part of their property taxes. There’s also funding for pre-school children with autism, a plan to help graduates with a down payment on a home, extending leave to 26 weeks from eight for people caring for family members near the end of their lives and a new tax credit for volunteer firefighters and first responders.
Debate night. Wall and Broten trade verbal barbs in the hour-long exchange that often turns to shouting. Broten, challenging Wall on finances, says the Saskatchewan Party inherited nearly $2 billion in the province’s rainy-day savings account when it took power in 2007, but drained it dry.
“You inherited a jackpot. You inherited a fortune … and now you’ve got nothing because you made bad choices.” Wall defends the government record. “Every time the leader of the NDP says there have been cuts in health care or education, know that he’s not telling the truth because there have not been cuts.”
Elections Saskatchewan says 10,716 ballots were cast in five days of advance polls — a 66 per cent increase from the number of early ballots cast in 2011. Some polls reported lineups, primarily in urban constituencies, and extra workers were called in to help with the rush.
Wall takes the final day of the campaign off, but releases a YouTube video encouraging people to vote. Former NDP premier Lorne Calvert joins Broten to rally supporters. Calvert tells a crowd in Regina that the New Democrats are the best choice to watch the public purse strings.
The Saskatchewan party rolls to an easy election win with a third straight majority.