Scott Moe has led his party to another election victory in his first campaign as leader of the Saskatchewan Party.
Global News is projecting a Saskatchewan Party majority government.
“Last week, we had a couple of big honkin’ rallies for a strong Saskatchewan and tonight we’re celebrating a big honkin’ election win,” Moe said.
“For a fourth time, you have placed your trust in the Saskatchewan Party. You’ve given us a great responsibility and we take that responsibility seriously.”
Moe said the voters have put trust in his party to deal with the challenges that lay ahead as the province continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We will work every day to be deserving of your trust, to lead a recovery that is worthy of your trust and to build a great province that is also worthy of your trust.”
While the full election results won’t be known until the mail-in ballots have been counted, the Saskatchewan Party was leading or elected in 46 ridings on Monday night, with the NDP winning 15 seats.
The party was first elected in 2007 with Brad Wall as leader after 16 years of NDP rule. In two successive elections since then — 2011 and 2016 — the Saskatchewan Party consolidated its hold on power, increasing its seat count in both elections.
The Saskatchewan Party held 46 seats when the election was called, with the NDP at 13 and two seats vacant.
Wall announced in August 2017 he was stepping down as leader. Moe was elected leader on the fifth ballot at the February 2018 leadership convention. While he became premier following the leadership convention, Monday’s vote was his first as Saskatchewan Party leader and premier.
Moe said he is humbled by the win and vowed to work on behalf of everyone in the province.
“We are eager to build a strong economy, strong communities, strong families and a strong Saskatchewan for everyone,” Moe said.
Among the platform pledges Moe made is making life more affordable for people, balancing the budget by 2024 and growing Saskatchewan by increasing the population, expanding the resource export market and investing in infrastructure.
“We’re coming through this better than most places in the nation,” Moe said.
“Today, most of our economy is open in the province. We have the lowest unemployment rate in the country and the recovery is well underway in our province.
The Saskatchewan NDP, led by Ryan Meili, will form the official opposition. It was Meili’s first campaign as party leader.
Meili was humble in defeat, but said it is not the end for those voting for change.
“This is the beginning. Do not give up because we can, in Saskatchewan, we can do so much better then what we’ve seen,” Meili said.
“Yes, we’re going to be in opposition. And I believe it’s going to be the strongest opposition this province has seen in years. And we will fight for you. We will fight for the people of Saskatchewan.”
Meili didn’t speculate on his future, instead saying the election was about the people.
“I’ve heard from you, your frustrations, your fears, your hopes for what we could build in Saskatchewan. And that’s what this election is about,” he said.
“It’s about you. It’s about us and what we can achieve together as Saskatchewan people.”
Moe said although he has political differences with Meili, he has never doubted Meili’s love for the province.
“I have never disputed his commitment to making Saskatchewan a better place to live,” Moe said.
“I know his party will continue to serve Saskatchewan well.”
No candidates from the other four parties contesting the election were elected.
The last time anyone other than a Saskatchewan Party or NDP candidate was elected was in 1999, when the Liberals won four seats — the first election contested by the Saskatchewan Party.
This was the first election in Saskatchewan since the COVID-19 pandemic started.
It made for a different campaign, with only 30 people — including media — allowed at campaign stops.
Thirty-one seats are needed to form a majority. The Saskatchewan Party held 46 seats and the NDP 13 seats when the writ dropped on Sept. 29. Two seats were vacant.
All six party leaders in Saskatchewan led their parties into an election for the first time — something that hasn’t happened since the 1938 election.
At least 12 rookie MLAs will be elected after several high-profile MLAs announced their retirement from politics, including Nancy Heppner, Dan D’Autremont and Herb Cox for the Saskatchewan Party, and David Forbes, Warren McCall and Danielle Chartier for the NDP.
More than 185,000 people voted at advance polls and around 61,000 applications for mail-in ballots were received by Elections Saskatchewan — roughly one-third of which had been returned to the agency as of Oct. 23.
Ahead of Monday’s vote, Michael Boda, the province’s chief electoral officer, said election night results could be delayed due to the large number of mail-in ballots.
“We’re not sure how many will be returned of those 60,000 applications that have been approved, but on close races on election night, they may have an impact,” Boda said on Friday.
“It may very well be that there are ridings that can’t be called on election night.”
Two other provinces have held elections since the start of the pandemic, with the ruling party winning in both cases — the PC Party in New Brunswick and the NDP in British Columbia —re-elected with majority governments. Both had been heading minority governments at the time the elections were called.
Most Saskatchewan residents — including those in Saskatchewan’s two largest cities — will be back at the polls on Nov. 9 for municipal elections.