In December, 980 CJME senior reporter Sarah Mills sat down with NDP interim leader Trent Wotherspoon in an annual year-end interview.
It was a year Wotherspoon admittedly didn’t expect.
After the NDP lost the election to the Sask. Party on April 4, leader Cam Broten stepped down. Broten had failed to win his seat in the legislature.
That left Wotherspoon the man for the job, and he took over as interim leader shortly after.
“You have to accept the realities, you have to accept what voters have asked you do,” he said.
“Certainly after a very difficult election there was recognition that we have to go to work and do what we have been asked to do and to serve as the official opposition. I have been asked to serve in this role.”
While it can be a challenging role, Wotherspoon said being on a team with new MLAs has been a great experience.
“It has been both a pleasure to work with those members and our entire team. We all enjoy each other, which is a good thing. But it has been fun to watch them find their feet and lead in their respective fields and engage in the province. It really has been enjoyable and rewarding as well.”
Wotherspoon said taking on the role as interim leader – while also being a young father and MLA – wasn’t that much different from the approach he took in the party before.
“I have served as deputy leader and I have been active in my files in education, which has included reaching out to an entire province, so that part isn’t entirely new to me,” he said.
“It is about making sure you keep your priorities in check, making sure there is that time for family.”
Wotherspoon said he makes the most of opportunities to be with his family, including “quick little windows” to stop home and read a book to his son. He also includes his family in community events.
In the house
The NDP seem to have taken a new approach in the fall session as they held government to account. In one question period, as many as six ministers answered questions on a range of topics.
Wotherspoon said his party is taking their role as opposition seriously.
“If you are listening to an entire province, if you are building relationships with communities – rural, in the north, with First Nations, urban centres – there are a lot of issues important to Saskatchewan people,” he said.
“We want to be nimble and relevant in people’s lives and addressing what’s important to them. There is a lot of play within in our province; there is a lot at stake. There is a lot of hope and opportunity as well. There is a lot of areas that certainly we need to do a better job on.”
Fall session was a busy one. One tragic issue that came to the forefront was the youth suicide crises in Northern Saskatchewan.
“We can never look past the tragic realities of children deciding to take their own lives, realities that none of us should accept. And something that we all need to be engaged in, in an earnest way to address, to bring an end to, to ensure the hope and opportunity that everyone deserves.”
Wotherspoon also said there was a “very strong and growing theme” of people feeling taken for granted. He pointed to cuts to education and health.
“All of these short-sighted and desperate cuts, including the broken promise surrounding the privatization of our Crown corporations, are short sighted and don’t serve our long-term interests and will cost us more in the long run.”