Saskatchewan’s politicians are looking back at the year that was.
For Premier Brad Wall, it contained both personal and professional highlights. His daughter Megan got married in the Cypress Hills this summer. On the political front, 2015 was not without its challenges.
The loonie tanked and oil prices continued to fall which left a deficit in the Saskatchewan budget.
But Wall feels the province is managing what has been thrown at it this year.
“We have come through this, and are getting through this, in a comparatively strong position,” Wall said. “Now that is not to be cavalier or ignore the issues that are out there, there are some, but I think as a highlight of the year, I’ve been surprised by the population numbers at the end of the year, I really was.”
But as Wall looks to the new year, he admits tackling the economic difficulties won’t be easy.
“We want to strike the right balance, we want to keep investing in infrastructure, we want to obviously keep providing services, we want to keep taxes competitive and we like to find a balance and achieving all that, that will be a challenge.”
Amid the Saskatchewan Party challenges, NDP leader Cam Broten feels 2015 was the year his party hit its stride.
Whether it be the issues with SaskPower’s carbon capture program, seniors care and ongoing issues in health care and the introduction of LEAN, Broten believes they not only held the government to account but suggested ideas of their own.
“How do we make sure that the prosperity Saskatchewan has actually translates into the most important thing for families,” Broten questioned.
As 2016 arrives the biggest event on the horizon is the provincial election to be held on April 4.
It will be the first big test for Broten as the NDP leader and he has a mountain to climb. The NDP were reduced to just nine seats in the 2011 election. Broten though doesn’t feel it is insurmountable
“We’ve got a job ahead and work to do and we are doing that work,” he insists. “We’re going to stay focused on the priorities that families have, we are going to continue to work hard, we are going to continue to take nothing for granted and do the hard work that is required and do the listening that is required.”
But given the plans laid out already and the sense Broten has that the NDP are getting it right, he is looking forward to what the new year brings.
“We are really pleased with the concrete planks that we have rolled out already and looking forward to the actual election period where we get to have an even bigger discussion with the province.”
Wall is seeking a third term as premier. The polls put him ahead and his popularity remains but he isn’t taking anything for granted.
“I always feel like it is going to be difficult, we are going to campaign like we are 10 points behind,” he maintained. “We are taking nothing for granted, we are going to work hard to try and earn another chance to form government.”
And whether it be political ads on TV and radio, the campaign has essentially already begun. The Saskatchewan Party have continued door-knocking throughout their mandate, reaching 97,000 doors in 2015.
Wall thinks it is important to stay in touch and that you hear first-hand how people feel about certain issues.
There has been a lot of talk this year that Wall will consider a federal run. He is continually asked if he is learning French. Wall maintains his focus remains on the near future only.
“It is sort of one phase at a time, you know the next phase is the next election, and it is sort of tough to look beyond that.”