Of Saskatchewan’s 14 federal ridings, three or four will see close races in the 2019 federal election, according to one political scientist.
The University of Saskatchewan’s Greg Poelzer expects the western economy to be the dominant issue in the province, along with Indigenous issues playing a significant role in northern Saskatchewan.
However, the dynamics of each riding are unique.
Regina–Wascana will be a “battle,” according to Poelzer. He said the long-time riding of Ralph Goodale is highly coveted by the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC), and there has been a push to take it from the Liberals.
“The Conservatives have been working very, very hard to unseat Ralph Goodale – as they typically do,” Poelzer said.
At the same time, Poelzer said Goodale might benefit from a coalition of left-leaning voters who don’t want to see a CPC win. Goodale’s decades of political experience also work in his favour, Poelzer said.
“Unseating incumbents is always difficult to begin with, let alone somebody with the personality of Ralph Goodale,” Poelzer said on Wednesday.
He expects the most fascinating riding in the province will be Desnethé-Missinippi-Churchill River, which encompasses northern Saskatchewan.
The Liberals are running Tammy Cook-Searson, who is well-known for her time as the chief of the Lac La Ronge Indian Band. She’s up against incumbent New Democrat Georgina Jolibois.
With support from areas north of Prince Albert and around Meadow Lake, though, Poelzer said it’s a three-way race that includes Conservative candidate Gary Vidal.
“The winner’s going to probably going to end up winning by just a couple hundred votes,” Poelzer said.
The political scientist is also watching Saskatoon West, where Sheri Benson is eyeing a second term for the New Democratic Party. She faces Conservative businessman Brad Redekopp.
The X-factor, though, is the NDP, according to Poelzer.
“You have the NDP is complete free-fall going into the election, and the Conservatives have been working that riding for the last couple years very heavily,” he said.
In Saskatoon-Grasswood, Poelzer said Conservative Kevin Waugh has exceeded expectations, and has been a good “constituency MP.” If the NDP “implodes,” Poelzer said centre-left voters could park their vote with Tracy Muggli of the Liberals.
“Then I think Tracy Muggli could legitimately make that riding very competitive,” Poelzer said.
Other ridings are guaranteed to see new faces like Regina-Lewvan where Erin Weir is not seeking re-election and Saskatoon-University where Corey Tocher unseated fellow Conservative Brad Trost for the riding’s nomination.
The federal election is scheduled for Oct. 21.
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