Saskatchewan residents, at least those who cast a ballot for the provincial general election held on Nov. 7, decided to strengthen the mandate given to Brad Wall and the Saskatchewan Party to govern the province for another four years, while at the same time their opposition, the NDP, was whittled down to nine members, and that without their leader.
The consequences of this vote are two-fold: the Saskatchewan Party has been given an even bigger mandate to carry on their policies and plans for the province, picking up votes from a greatly-reduced Liberal party (which didn't run candidates unless they were actually running) and also disaffected supporters from the NDP; and secondly, the NDP lost some very key members, from leader Dwain Lingenfelter to experienced MLAs like Deb Higgins and Judy Junor.
Truly the NDP are now in a rebuilding mode, and will need to spend some time looking for new leadership, and then shoring up their support and lining up good candidates for the next election to be held four years from now.
For the ruling Saskatchewan Party, this presents an even greater onus, and indeed a heavier burden of responsibility, namely to represent not only all those who voted for them in this election, but those who didn't vote for them.
In addition, there is the issue of accountability; there are some who feel the ruling party will not necessarily feel themselves as accountable to the citizens of the province as if they were facing a strong opposition. This is where the Sask Party needs to prove these pundits wrong, and make an extra effort to represent fairly all concerns brought to them, regardless of their political affiliation.
This would be the best way to avoid a massive backlash in four years' time of the scale that Premier Grant Devine faced, and led to the stronghold on the province held for many years by the NDP. That backlash was of Devine's own making, because he felt with a strong mandate he could pretty well do whatever he wanted as an administration.
Premier Wall and his MLAs, including the Weyburn area's own Dustin Duncan, have a tremendous opportunity and responsibility to do well, and to help meet some of the outstanding needs of this riding and of the province, starting with housing, health care and education, along with highways. The electioneering is over; let the work begin. - Greg Nikkel