Canada 2019: Saskatchewan

Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River

MP at Dissolution: Georgina Jolibois, NDP

Our Rating: Leans Conservative

Our Take: This large riding covers most of Northern Saskatchewan by area, but it maintains a lower population than most other ridings due to the rural and remote nature of the riding. After Liberal Gary Merasty stood down, Conservative Rob Clarke won it in a 2008 by-election, but his loss in 2015 was a surprise, as he came third, making this the worst riding in Saskatchewan for the Conservatives on paper. Despite that, it was a close race, as current NDP MP Georgina Jolibois came a narrow first place, with 34% to the 33% won by the Liberals. Clarke’s 29% clearly wasn’t enough to make him run again, as the Conservatives have instead nominated local Mayor Gary Vidal, with Jolibois also running for re-election. The Liberals will be represented by Tammy Cook-Searson, an indigenous leader.

That much of a three way race last time actually helps us pick a leaning party, rather than this being the Tossup it appears to be. Because the Conservatives are performing well in Saskatchewan, they stand to gain votes in the riding, particularly in the southern part which is more sympathetic to them. The NDP and Liberals may equally hold their vote up better than elsewhere. Both have candidates who have made indigenous issues the centre of their candidacies, but they are still on the defensive, and their candidates aren’t prominent enough (even with Jolibois’ incumbency) to create the huge personal votes that can be garnered. This means that despite the different dynamics of the riding compared to others in Saskatchewan, the provincial and national trends and shares are still important here. We think the Conservatives have the best chance to take advantage of that and gain votes, so although it is not quite so easy for them as other ridings in the province, they should win. We rate this as Leans Conservative.  

Saskatoon-Grasswood

MP at Dissolution: Kevin Waugh, Conservative

Our Rating: Solidly Conservative

Our Take: Saskatoon Grasswood was a new riding created for the 2015 Election. Previously ridings in Saskatoon were ‘rurban’ – they contained both parts of the city and rural areas miles out. The riding contains suburbs of Saskatoon like Wildwood and Stonebridge, as well as the Grasswood area near the Saskatchewan River. The Conservative performance generally improves the further away you get from downtown Saskatoon. When some ridings became fully urbanised at the last election they became high on the NDP target list, but former sportscaster Kevin Waugh won the open seat (he defeated the incumbent Lynne Yelich in the nomination race) by an 11.4% margin. He is running again, against the Liberal Tracy Muggli who came third last time, and Mark Friesen, one of the more active and well-known PPC candidates. 

Last election’s result proved that despite forecasts of a close race, this is ultimately Conservative territory. Waugh had two tough races – the nomination and the general – both of which he won convincingly, and despite the efforts of his opponents he is by far the strongest candidate in the race. This only helps cement his position in a riding that has proven to deliver for the Conservatives – with the polling consensus that the Liberals and NDP are not in good shape in Saskatchewan, and with the Greens and PPC simply too far behind to impact the race, we believe this is a riding that is Solidly Conservative.

Yorkton-Melville

MP at Dissolution: Cathay Wagantall, Conservative

Our Rating: Solidly Conservative

Our Take: This riding covers the towns and rural areas of East-Central Saskatchewan, including Yorkton and Melville. It was not always a Conservative stronghold; Garry Breitkreuz gained it for Reform in 1997 from the NDP’s Lorne Nystrom (who also lost his new seat to a certain Andrew Scheer in 2004), not the PCs in their meltdown. Since then, it has gone reliably Conservative, and Cathay Wagantall won this as an open seat in 2015 with 59.2% of the vote – still a decent total. Wagantall is running for re-election.

Like nearly all of these sorts of ridings, we have reason to rate it as Solidly Conservative. We don’t see how Wagantall could not hold on to enough of her total to make this remotely competitive, be that due to her own party’s picture or any others. Andrew Scheer should definitely be able to rely on his neighbouring seat this October.