Provincial NDP leader Dwain Lingenfelter was in a good mood as the legislature wrapped up its spring session, thanks to some positive federal election results.
He noted "the huge success at the federal level," referring to the rise of the federal NDP under leader Jack Layton to official opposition status after major gains in the May 2 election, in speaking to the Regional Optimist May 18. The federal NDP won 103 seats in the election, their best showing in history.
"We're so proud of Jack and his team because this wasn't an obvious thing that was going to happen," said Lingenfelter.
He pointed out that in the early days of that campaign it looked like the NDP might lose seats.
"It really shows you how fast a campaign can change the look of an election," said Lingenfelter
Lingenfelter added the provincial NDP can take heart from what happened at the federal level. The provincial party had been trailing Brad Wall and the Saskatchewan Party consistently in public opinion polls for several months.
Lingenfelter acknowledged the NDP's "underdog" status going into the fall election, but pointed to the federal results as an inspiration for party volunteers to keep working hard.
"It lets our people know that even when you're behind you have to fight hard and work hard and be ready when the door opens," said Lingenfelter. He called the federal showing a "morale boost" for the provincial party going into the fall campaign.
The provincial NDP is almost ready for that vote, having nominated 50 of the 58 candidates needed for a full slate. Lingenfelter said the party remains well ahead of their preparations compared to the last election in 2007.
Lingenfelter spoke with the Regional Optimist just one day before the conclusion of the legislative session that wrapped up May 19, the last sitting before the election.
Lingenfelter said the session was a good one for the provincial NDP and was happy to see it take on a positive tone.
"It's very different from the last couple because it was so much more positive," said Lingenfelter. "We're now announcing more positive alternatives to the Wall government in terms of health care and the whole issue of getting more royalties for potash."
On health care, he has pushed against the idea of leaving doctor recruitment to municipalities around the province, saying he would make it a provincial responsibility once again.
"Right now communities are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on doctor recruitment," said Lingenfelter, who contends the costs are too much for many smaller communities to handle on their own. He also says there would be more efforts geared towards doctor recruitment at the university level here, with the same incentives being offered to those graduates as well as for foreign doctors.
On potash royalties, Lingenfelter said his party is committed to a royalty review, saying the current level is not enough. As well, the NDP has announced its support for rent control, with Lingenfelter noting the unreasonable rent increases some Saskatchewan people have had to pay.
Lingenfelter also voiced his support for teachers and health care workers during the recent contract disputes in the province. He said he hoped to see the province put more money towards the negotiations, while at the same time he decried some of the salary increases to CEOs and political aides in the government, which he believes are out of line.