A blue wave swept across the Prairies once again.
The Conservative Party won every riding between the eastern Manitoba border and western limit of Alberta, including all Saskatchewan constituencies, with the exception of 11 on Monday’s federal election.
It’s not the total seizure the Conservatives saw in 2019, but Premier Scott Moe, speaking Tuesday, still rejoiced at the result.
“In what I saw in the result last night, 90 per cent of Saskatchewan residents don’t want Justin Trudeau to be their prime minister,” he said, taking care to criticize the Liberal leader for what he said was an unnecessary election.
He began his brief statement with an anecdote — or, perhaps, a joke — about how his nephew said he wasn’t having a good birthday because Trudeau was still Prime Minister.
A University of Saskatchewan political scientist said the results weren’t a surprise, even in the hotly-contested Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River and Saskatoon West ridings. But Daniel Westlake cautions that the strong Conservative showing doesn’t necessarily mean support for conservative governments in the same region.
“If I was an Alberta provincial conservative, I’d be a lot more nervous than if I was an Alberta federal conservative right now. And the same for Saskatchewan,” Daniel Westlake said.
Things look very different for the respective legislatures than they do in the House of Commons. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney sacked his health minister for a disastrous response to the fourth wave of COVID-19 on the same day Moe used a 10-year-old’s birthday to take a swing at Trudeau.
And Brian Pallister vacated the premier’s position in Winnipeg after facing similar, severe criticisms over the pandemic and other matters.
Front-line health-care workers in Saskatchewan have criticized Moe for his responses to COVID.
Global News asked him about the dissonance between the federal election results and his fellow premiers’ political fortunes.
“I’m not sure I precisely understand the question,” he said, before stating, “we had 14 Conservative seats going into this election. There’s were 14 Conservative seats going out.”
Westlake said the ridings and races affect whether political support overlaps.
Of the nearly dozen seats the Tories lost, all but one were urban and suburban and in major centres like Edmonton, Calgary and Winnipeg.
Conservatives don’t usually do well — or at least as well — in urban centres as they do in rural ridings, Westlake pointed out.
And the fact there are more of those ridings in the more populated provinces provides more opportunity.
But the main distinction Westlake makes is in the campaign. Party leaders at different levels talk about different issues.
“The opponents that Erin O’Toole faces in Saskatchewan also have to win ridings in Vancouver and Toronto and places that hold views that are very different from the rest of the province,” he said.
A party leader seeking the broad support needed to garner a plurality of seats at the federal level will (and did, in this case) lose out on seats in specific areas because the broader policies aren’t as appealing, Westlake explained.
He said the Saskatchewan NDP, or any provincial opposition party, can tailor their message to voters in a way federal leaders can’t.
“If I were Scott Moe, I wouldn’t read too much into this,” he said.
“The reality is provincial elections are different than federal elections, especially on the Prairies.”