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Saskatchewan NDP propose limit to class size, focus on election

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WATCH: Saskatchewan’s official opposition are already preparing for the next provincial election. – Nov 3, 2019

Ryan Meili said on Saturday that class sizes would be limited if the Saskatchewan NDP win the next provincial election.

“With a New Democrat government there won’t be a single class from kindergarten to Grade 3 with more than 24 children,” he said speaking to party members in Prince Albert.

He made the announcement during his keynote address during the party’s last convention ahead of the next provincial election, scheduled to take place before October 2020.

READ MORE: Saskatchewan NDP launching health care survey

He told Global News he considered the announcement the start of his campaign.

He also said he was very aware his party, with just 13 seats in the legislature, would have a challenge unseating the governing Saskatchewan Party, which has 46 seats.

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“There’s no question we’re the underdogs in this race,” he said.

He also announced his “Saskatchewan First” economic policy, which would prioritize awarding government contracts to companies that employ Saskatchewan workers. He also said the policy means embracing innovation.

He also took many opportunities to criticize the Sask Party and Premier Scott Moe, saying that the party was out of touch and that Moe doesn’t know the difference between a cost and an investment.

“Our idea of putting people first is in stark contrast to the Sask Party, which keeps letting people down,” he told the party faithful.

He also called for a new Saskatchewan Transportation Company.

The next provincial election will take place barely a year after the recent federal election, in which the Conservative Party of Canada — to the political right of the NDP — took every riding in the province.

Even long-serving Liberal MP and cabinet minister Ralph Goodale, who served for 26 years, was voted out.

READ MORE: Saskatchewan’s lone Liberal MP, Ralph Goodale, loses re-election bid in Regina-Wascana

“I’m obviously concerned about (the federal election results),” Meili said.

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“We’re not taking that lightly and we’re engaging around the conversation about how Western Canada is feeling.”

Joe Garcea, a University of Saskatchewan political science professor, said the convention was “crucial” for the party.

“The NDP, like all parties, should really be thinking about what happened in the federal election. There are a lot of lessons there about do’s and don’ts,” he said.

The NDP has struggled in rural ridings and Garcea said the party needs to improve how it is perceived with regards to the economy.

He also said that the NDP will have to be strategic in how it treats the federal government, given that the Liberal Party and the carbon tax are not popular in the province.

“They might find that they’re going to have to support many things that the Sask Party says, otherwise they risk being seen being as pro-Ottawa,” Garcea said.

READ MORE: Moe asks Trudeau for meeting in 2nd letter outlining Saskatchewan’s concerns

Meili said he would speak up for Saskatchewan’s interests and that the NDP is “preparing letters for all of the federal leaders… (to) make sure that we’re being heard.”

He said the letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would address federal treatment of Indigenous children, access to markets for Saskatchewan products and federal-provincial equalization, among other issues.

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He wouldn’t comment further on the letters but said they would be released in a few days.

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