Candidates in an upcoming Saskatoon byelection say the vote will send a message to the province.
The Saskatoon-Meeswain byelection takes place March 2, less than three weeks before the Sask. government announces its 2017 budget.
Premier Brad Wall has projected the provincial deficit at $1.2 billion.
Candidates for the Green, Liberal, New Democratic, Progressive Conservative and Saskatchewan parties are in the running.
The seat was held by Sask. Party MLA Roger Parent before his death in November 2016.
Sask. Party candidate Brent Penner is optimistic about carrying the seat for the reigning party, despite early polls showing him trailing the NDP’s Ryan Meili in support.
“A common thread that I hear from people is that they’re happy with the premier for the stand that he’s taken on the issues important to Saskatchewan,” Penner said.
“Regardless of what a poll says, or what any candidate says I believe that I am the best candidate to represent the constituency of Meewasin.”
But NDP candidate Ryan Meili said the last decade has been marred by wasteful spending that has led to a big deficit.
“We had the best economic times we seen certainly in my lifetime and what do we have at the end of it? Big deficits, growing debt,” Meili said.
“We need to look at the long-term strategies to have the revenues that we and to look at cutting those elements of provincial spending that are actually wasteful.”
Liberal candidate Darrin Lamoureux told 650 CKOM he’s also received feedback about the projected deficit on the campaign trail.
“(Residents) just don’t feel the money in the resource boom was spent properly. And to be talking about cuts right now. It’s a big issue at the door,” Lamoureux said.
“We didn’t need to build the Regina bypass. It’s worth $2.1 billion. Had we not built that, and not gone forward with that, we wouldn’t be going into deficit.”
If Lamoureux wins, he would become the first Liberal MLA to be sent to the Saskatchewan legislature in nearly two decades.
David Prokopchuk, who is running for the Progressive Conservatives, said he’s been getting an earful on the door step.
“It’s not mad – it’s just disappointed and upset,” Prokopchuk said.
“They thought they had one government and they’re discovering that they’ve had something they didn’t realize they had –they’ve got a deficit.”
Prokopchuk pointed out the deficit represents $1,000 owed by every man, woman and child in the province.
For Shawn Setyo, the seat would mark a big step for the Green Party in Saskatchewan.
“I hope by 2020, the next general election, we’ll have a very large organizational base and increase our membership and hopefully have a very robust platform by then,” Setyo said.
The Green Party candidate has heard a number of other issues at the doorstep.
“One that keeps coming up, and I think will come up to the end of time, are the roads. And so are the cuts to municipal ties. Provincial governments are concerned. As well as the cuts to the Meewasin trail,” Setyo said.