There is no doubt that the voters of Saskatoon Meewasin sent a strong message to the Saskatchewan Party on March 2 by electing Ryan Meili as their MLA. But, what exactly was that message?
I went out foot canvassing several times throughout the by-election and talked to many voters. Here is a little summary of what I heard.
Don’t touch our Crowns: People are perplexed over why the Sask Party would even consider privatizing Crown Corporations like Sasktel. They told me over and over again that our Crowns provide good jobs and their profits are reinvested in social programs that benefit all Saskatchewan citizens. I was told plenty of times that the NDP should do everything we can to stop the Sask Party if they try to sell off any of our Crowns.
Sask Party cuts hurt everyone: Voters are upset with the Sask Party’s cuts to health and education. They told me that the health care system was already stretched to its limits and the Sask Party musings cutting the jobs of even more health professionals would be a disaster. Parents told me that the recent cuts to our province’s schools are preventing their children from reaching their full potential.
We just can’t trust them: Voters were worried about the lack of transparency of the provincial government and believed that the Sask Party is becoming increasingly dishonest. I heard concerns about the money wasted in the Global Transportation Hub land scandal and the government covering up the wrongdoing of its own MLAs, Ministers, and supporters.
A sea of red ink: Voters were concerned about the Sask Party’s fiscal mismanagement that has resulted in a deficit that is getting bigger by the day. Voters told me that they didn’t understand why the Sask Party had failed to save and invest during the good economic years leaving provincial government’s finances now awash in red ink. A lot of folk said that the NDP needs to get back into power to clean up the financial mess caused by Brad Wall and the Sask Party.
Where did all the jobs go? Voters told me that they are concerned about the thousands of jobs have been lost over the last year in Saskatchewan. They told me that the Sask Party does not seem to have a plan to create new jobs and their plans for more cuts to government services and sell-offs of the Crowns will only make things worse.
So, what was the message that the voters of Saskatoon Meewasin were sending the government?
On the doorstep, voters in Saskatoon Meewasin told me that they don’t want cuts, privatization, dishonesty, deficits, and a weak economy- but that is all the Sask. Party is offering.
The by-election is a turning point for our party. It changes the narrative. It alters the conversation. It moves Saskatchewan politics in a different direction. It signals a different future for Saskatchewan is on the horizon.
There is much more work to be done. And we have already started.
We are starting our leadership race soon. We are reforming our party structures. We are debating policy. We are planning for the next election.
The by-election was a good start and we have the momentum on our side. Let’s keep it going!