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NDP swipes 2 Sask. Party seats in byelection wins

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The Saskatchewan New Democrats have claimed byelection victories in both Regina Walsh Acres and Regina Coronation Park – increasing the official opposition's seat count to 14.

“We are not fighting to be a better opposition. We are fighting to kick out a tired and out of touch government that has stopped delivering for people in this province,” NDP leader Carla Beck said during her speech following the wins.

Both seats were previously held by the Saskatchewan Party. However, the two constituencies in Regina were seen as competitive seats for the NDP – with previous races decided by hundreds of votes in 2020 and 2016.

The margin was decisive in both races – with the NDP’s candidates – Noor Burki and Jared Clarke raking in nearly 57 per cent and 54 per cent of the vote.

The results won't be finalized until Aug. 22 to allow time for outstanding mail-in ballots to be included in the total.

However, based on Elections Saskatchewan's tally of the mail-in ballots issued in each constituency, there are not enough remaining votes to affect the outcome for either candidate.

Beck attributed the victories to the determination shown by her newest MLAs.

“It was hard work. I mean the candidates led by example on their teams,” she said.

“They knocked every door in the constituency three and four times.”

The mood was subdued at the Sask. Party's election night gathering in Regina as the results rolled in.

Regina Walsh Acres candidate Nevin Markwart said he was "disappointed" with the loss.

"I appreciate the experience of being able to go out in the neighbourhood that I grew up in and meet all the people," Markwart said, also adding that he feels his skills would have been useful in government.

"I think prospectively, they may still be," he said — seemingly leaving the door open to future political endeavours.

In the other byelection of the night, despite a challenge from the insurgent Saskatchewan United Party, the Sask. Party maintained its hold on Lumsden-Morse.

Just before 9 p.m., Premier Scott Moe tweeted a congratulatory message celebrating Blaine McLeod's win in the constituency, while also including a subtle acknowledgment of his party's losses in the two other concurrent byelections.

"Thank you to all the byelection candidates and your teams and congratulations to Saskatchewan’s three newest MLAs," Moe said.

"I look forward to working with Lumsden-Morse MLA Blaine McLeod — the newest member of our Saskatchewan Party government caucus."

With almost 3,500 votes reporting around the time of Moe's tweet – McLeod boasted a considerable lead with over 52 per cent of the vote.

That left Jon Hromek, Sask. United's hope for sending its first elected member to the legislature and the NDP's Kaitlyn Stadnyk vying for second place.

At the Sask. United election night event in Moose Jaw, after it was clear the party wouldn't pull off an upset, the attention turned to the NDP.

Some attendees cheered as the final votes trickled in just before 10 p.m, pointing to the possibility of Hromerk edging out Stadnyk.

With the final poll reporting, the Sask. United party had managed to hold a lead of more than 100 votes over the NDP. However, that could erode when the mail-in ballots are counted later this month.

Based on the final election night totals, Sask. United and the NDP had captured around 23 and 22 per cent of the vote respectively.

In a speech, Hromek framed the party's performance in a positve light.

"We were only messaging for 28 days, imagine what we could do over 365 days," Hromek said.

Sask. Untied Leader Nadine Wilson and Lumsden-Morse candidate John Hromek celebrate following a strong showing at the polls. (Allison Bamford/CTV News)

“A monumental shift is taking place," he said.

“My job’s not done. We’re just getting started and we’re going to keep working," Hromek added in a speech that ended with a standing ovation.

The three Regina-area byelections were prompted by the loss of three Saskatchewan Party MLAs earlier this year.

The Regina Coronation Park seat was left empty following Mark Docherty's February announcement he would be stepping away from politics.

However, that didn't stop him from publicly questioning the direction of the Sask. Party last month.

When asked about it by a reporter, Sask. Party candidate Riaz Ahmad shrugged off the idea that Docherty's musings contributed to his loss in the constituency.

"I didn't get a lot of questions on the doorstep," Ahmad said.

Regina Walsh Acres was left vacant after cancer claimed the life of Derek Meyers in March and the Lumsden-Morse seat opened up when veteran Sask. Party MLA Lyle Stewart stepped down in March due to health concerns.

Lumsden-Morse was seen as a Sask. Party stronghold – with the party capturing over 70 per cent of the vote in 2020 – while the NDP recorded just 17 per cent.

The newly-formed Sask. United Party was looking to gain ground in the constituency.

Wilson launched the upstart party after she resigned from the Sask. Party caucus for misrepresenting her COVID-19 vaccination status in 2021.

Wilson said she believes Sask. United’s potential second place finish in Lumsden-Morse will catch the attention of her former colleagues.

“I believe that the Saskatchewan Party will think that Saskatchewan United is credible, that we resonate with the public,” she told CTV News.

With a silver medal in hand — on election night at least — Wilson is looking forward to next year's general election.

“I think our party is going to do very well if we received 22 per cent right now being relatively unknown – we will do very well in the 2024 election.”

Prior to the byelections, the Sask. Party held 45 of the legislature’s 61 seats. The NDP controlled 12 while Sask. United held one — Wilson's seat which she orignally won running for her former party.

With the fresh NDP wins, their seat count has increased to 14, while the Sask. Party now controls 43.

Of the total 37,583 registered voters throughout the three constituencies – nearly 13,000 cast a ballot.

That works out to around 37 per cent of the registered electorate in Lumsden-Morse and Regina Walsh Acres and just over 29 per cent in Regina Coronation Park, according to Elections Saskatchewan.

Candidates for the three constituencies included:

Regina Walsh Acres

  • Jared Clarke - New Democratic Party (N.D.P.)
  • Rose Buscholl - Progressive Conservative Party of Saskatchewan
  • Joseph Reynolds - Saskatchewan Green Party
  • Nevin Markwart - Saskatchewan Party

Regina Coronation Park

  • Noor Burki - New Democratic Party (N.D.P.)
  • Olasehinde Ben Adebayo - Progressive Conservative Party of Saskatchewan
  • Kendra Anderson - Saskatchewan Green Party
  • Riaz Ahmad - Saskatchewan Party
  • Reid Hill - Saskatchewan Progress Party

Lumsden-Morse

  • Les Guillemin - Buffalo Party
  • Kaitlyn Stadnyk - New Democratic Party (N.D.P.)
  • Isaiah Hunter - Saskatchewan Green Party
  • Blaine McLeod - Saskatchewan Party
  • Jon Hromek - Saskatchewan United Party

Polls closed at 8 p.m. CST.

--With files from Allison Bamford, Wayne Mantyka and Katy Syrota.

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