The leadership of Saskatchewan’s New Democratic Party is going to be decided in 2018. Trent Wotherspoon wants to be the person to take on the role as leader of the opposition, and then build towards an election win in 2020. He was in Yorkton to meet people through the area.
“Right now it’s a time of meeting, listening, and building for the future.”
Wotherspoon says he’s fighting for a Saskatchewan that works for everyone, and he says the concerns of the people he has talked to indicate that the current government not working for them. He notes that people are concerned about cuts to education and attacks on crown corporations.
“People in Yorkton and all across the province are ready to rally and step up and fight for classrooms and our crowns. I want to build the most enriched and engaging classrooms possible across our province and give control back to our school boards, and of course protect our crown corporations for future generations.”
The transparency of government is also an area where Wotherspoon sees dissatisfaction with the current government, noting things like the GTH land deals and Regina Bypass.
In Yorkton, an inevitable election issue is going to be the cancellation of grants-in-lieu funding, which cost Yorkton $1.5 million in the last budget.
“I’ve been on this point from the moment the Sask Party brought forward that deceitful budget that robbed our municipalities of the dollars that they need. This was a real betrayal of communities like Yorkton, and it has consequences... I’m committed that we honor our commitments via grants in lieu to our cities, town and villages, but more than that I want to make sure we honour our commitments for revenue sharing to our municipalities and also to establish infrastructure funding that municipalities can count on.”
The NDP has struggled in rural Saskatchewan, but Wotherspoon says the current government has taken rural Saskatchewan for granted, and the closure of STC is one example of how the government disregarded their rural constituents. He also considers taking power away from local school boards to be a betrayal of rural people in the province.
Wotherspoon has also received the endorsement of former MLA Clay Serby, and he is proud to have received his support. Yorkton has not had an NDP MLA since Serby retired in 2007, however, and Wotherspoon says that they plan on getting the seat back by working with people in the region on things they care about.
“We can build on a vision that excites people across the province. I’ve committed to, for example, building a strong and inclusive economy across the province. There is so much that we can do in through this region which would allow a strong and inclusive economy... But also do things like deliver universal mental health and addictions services to all the people throughout the province. This is something that would literally save lives, but it also saves dollars, and the fact is that far too many people are suffering in silence... We know that one dollar invested into mental health and addictions services will save seven dollars in later health costs.”
Wotherspoon has nothing kind to say about the current Sask Party government, and believes they’re in need of replacement. He sees more momentum and interest on the street and within the NDP membership, and believes that while they were beat down in the last election, they have bounced back.
“I think the Sask Party is in disarray, I think that they’ve run out of steam and run out of ideas. I think that they’re in a battle with themselves and I believe they’re out of line with the priorities of Saskatchewan people. I think they’re an old, tired, exhausted government right now that is really in disarray, and a government that wasn’t honest with Saskatchewan people.”
The NDP will decide on its next leader on March 3, and the cutoff to buy memberships to vote in is January 19.