The incumbent MLA for Weyburn-Big Muddy, Dustin Duncan, has hit the ground running after the official start of the provincial election campaign on Sept. 29.
The election date is Monday, Oct. 26, and at this point, Duncan’s opponents in the race are Regan Lanning for the NDP, and Collin Keith for the Buffalo Party.
“I think it’s going pretty well,” said Duncan on Friday, noting his first campaign stops were in Ogema and Pangman, and then was in Weyburn on Thursday and Friday, including taking time to put in a lawn sign in front of his cousin Derek Tracey’s house.
“First and foremost, the ballot question is going to be who voters trust to lead Saskatchewan in the economic recovery coming out of the pandemic,” said Duncan, noting the Saskatchewan Party has “a strong record” that they are standing on.
The party is aiming to have the books balanced by 2024, he pointed out as an example, plus voters know the stance the government has taken on the federal carbon tax, including taking the fight against it to the Supreme Court of Canada.
“We know that (NDP leader Ryan) Mr. Meili has spoken in support of a carbon tax. I haven’t spoken to anyone who has said their lives are better by paying the carbon tax,” said Duncan.
He also noted that the government has been providing funding for municipal infrastructure projects, which is important for the economy to continue growing.
Duncan also pointed out that Saskatchewan has done relatively well through COVID, with the numbers much lower than other provinces, and during the lockdowns they had a higher percentage of people working than anywhere else in Canada, and the unemployment rate has continued to be at a low level.
The issue the government has been working on is how to keep the economy growing, he added.
On the issue of the need for physicians in Weyburn, Duncan noted this is an issue that has arisen before, as back in 2013 they had to recruit new doctors for the community, and they are continuing to work with the health authority to resolve the issue now.
“In terms of reasons why doctors are leaving, that’s up to the individual doctors. I think we’re going to have some good news on that front, as we are in the fall round of recruitments through SIPPA,” said Duncan, noting there are two physician candidates who are designated for Weyburn, who are going through the assessment process and then should be coming to Weyburn once that is completed.
The recruitment of doctors can be challenging as “it’s a very competitive market” to attract new doctors, but the hope is the vacancies here will be filled in the not-too-distant future.
Asked how the campaign is going with COVID restrictions in place, Duncan said, “It’s interesting. Every campaign is a bit different, and we’ve had different ways of contacting voters through the years.”
He said they are observing the provincial guidelines, but they have been able to meet people and still do some campaigning around the riding.
“We may not be coming to every door … we still want opportunities for people to connect with us, and we’ll look at a little bit of a different way of doing that,” said Duncan.
One way will be to take in the candidates forum, which will be done online by the Weyburn Chamber of Commerce. No date has yet been set for it, but Duncan said he is looking forward to taking part in the debate.
Duncan will also be holding a meet-and-greet on Thursday, Oct. 8 upstairs at McKenna Hall in Weyburn from 1-3 p.m.