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Sask. premier calls byelection win a 'historic victory' as NDP loses long-held seat

Scott Moe speaks to media at the Saskatchewan Legislative Building on Feb. 16, 2022. Scott Moe speaks to media at the Saskatchewan Legislative Building on Feb. 16, 2022.

Saskatchewan's premier called his party’s win in Tuesday’s Athabasca byelection a “historic win,” with the NDP losing the long-held seat.

Following the preliminary count, Saskatchewan Party candidate Jim Lemaigre was elected to represent the constituency with just over 51 per cent of the vote.

“With last night's victory and Athabasca we truly do represent a constituencies from border to border the border to border in this province,” Premier Scott Moe said during a press conference Wednesday.

The NDP's Georgina Jolibois, who is mayor of La Loche and a former MP, came away with 40 per cent of the vote.

With the loss, the Saskatchewan NDP holds 12 out of the 61 total seats in the legislature. The Athabasca seat had been under NDP control since 1999.

NDP Leader Ryan Meili congratulated Lemaigre in a statement Wednesday, while noting the responsibility of representing northern Saskatchewan.

“I’d also like to impress on him the importance of the job he is taking on. Whether it’s lack of cell coverage, lack of available health services, or crumbling roads, Northerners need a strong advocate in the legislature to bring their voice to Regina, and that will require him to be a dissenting voice within his own government,” Meili said.

Moe implied the election results were an indictment on recent policy decisions by the NDP.

“You’re seeing, political parties that are putting forward very divisive policies. In particular over the course of the past month or two,” Moe said. “And you're seeing a party like the governing Saskatchewan Party in Saskatchewan that are putting forward a policy and a notion that people should come back together.”

The premier also made direct comments regarding Meili’s policies in a tweet Wednesday morning.

Meili did not directly respond to Moe’s claims in his statement.

“We made strong connections and spoke with thousands of Northerners about the kind of change they need to see in their communities. These issues will drive our advocacy moving forward,” Meili said.

Moe said Lemaigre will be joining the Saskatchewan Party caucus immediately and will be officially sworn in when the legislature reconvenes in the spring.

“Jim will not only be a strong voice on behalf of his constituents, but I think he’ll also be a very strong voice within the government with respect to you know how we continue down the path of reconciliation with our Indigenous people in our province,” Moe said.

Just more than 24 per cent of registered voters cast their vote in the byelection, according to Elections Saskatchewan.

There could be as many as 31 outstanding mail-in ballots that could be included in the final count — not enough to affect the outcome of the bylection.

The final count will occur on Feb. 28.

With files from CTV News Saskatoon’s Josh Lynn

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