June 28, 2017 7:40 pm
Updated: June 29, 2017 9:20 am

Saskatoon byelection important for both major parties, professor says

WATCH ABOVE: Jennifer Campeau stepped down as MLA last week. The provincial government is expected to fill the position within 6 months. Joel Senick looks at what could be at stake in the contest to win the seat.

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An upcoming byelection in the Saskatoon-Fairview riding will not change who controls Saskatchewan’s government, but will be important for both of the province’s major parties, according to a political studies professor.

“This is an election where clearly the people are divided, there’s strong support for both parties,” University of Saskatchewan professor Joe Garcea said in a recent interview.

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“It was up for grabs in both of the most recent elections.”

READ MORE: Saskatchewan Party MLA Jennifer Campeau leaving politics

Former Saskatchewan Party MLA Jennifer Campeau won the riding in the last two elections by less than a combined 450 votes. She resigned her seat last week and plans to move into a private sector job in British Columbia.

Garcea said the byelection to replace her will allow the government to take the electorate’s temperature.

‘It’s going to be seen as whether or not they’re retaining the legitimacy and support among the public or whether that’s eroding as some of the polls seem to be suggesting,” Garcea said.

“Or whether it’s still strong and substantial and they don’t have a lot to worry about.”

READ MORE: Ryan Meili’s byelection victory could change face of Saskatchewan NDP

The contest will be “crucial” for Saskatchewan’s New Democratic Party (NDP), according to Garcea because a win “could put a little wind in their sail.”

“It engenders confidence, it engenders enthusiasm within the party and perhaps beyond the party,” Garcea said.

“If they lose, it can be incredibly demoralizing.”

In March, Dr. Ryan Meili won the byelection held in Saskatoon-Meewasin, adding another member to the NDP’s caucus. Garcea said that a repeat performance could make “it possible for [the NDP] to cover more portfolios in greater depth.” Currently its caucus has 11 members, compared to the Saskatchewan Party’s 49.

Premier Brad Wall has six months to call a byelection. So far, a handful of potential candidates have expressed interest in running.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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