SWIFT CURRENT — Saskatchewan Party Leader Brad Wall jokes that he thinks he has at least three votes — his wife and parents.
Wall was smiling and joking as he cast his ballot Monday in his hometown of Swift Current, at a polling station where he once went to grade school.
“I kind of like the current MLA for Swift Current, so we’re going to give him another chance,” he said.
NDP Leader Cam Broten cast his ballot last week in advance polls in Saskatoon.
Saskatchewan voters are voting after a 27-day campaign that has featured few spending promises and lean party platforms.
It’s widely considered to be a two-way race between the Saskatchewan Party and the Opposition NDP.
Wall spent most of the campaign talking about his party’s record since taking office in 2007. The premier says he thinks the ballot box question is about the economy and which party has the best team to protect and create jobs in the province.
“We feel like we’ve done everything we could possibly do in a campaign, including stay on the message that we had to offer, be consistent throughout the campaign, avoid some problems perhaps and so I feel confident we’ve run the best campaign we possibly could have run,” said Wall.
Wall is seeking a third term in office.
He says it’s “not old hat.”
“Every time I drive around my hometown and see my name on someone’s sign they put up, my name to indicate they’re supporting me, that is a humbling thing, every single time it is. It’s not lost on me and so is the chance to vote.”
It’s the first election for Broten, who hammered away on the fact that Saskatchewan is now in deficit.
Wall’s party took more than 60 per cent of the popular vote along with 49 of 58 seats in the legislature in 2011, leaving the NDP with just nine.
Charles Smith, a University of Saskatchewan political science professor, says for the NDP to consider the election a success, it needs to see growth.
“An increase of five seats to 14 would give them some momentum,” says Smith.
“It would put a bit of wind in the sails of Mr. Broten, who’s still very much a rookie leader. This is his first real test. In some ways, he’s had a Herculean task to try and take down Mr. Wall.”
Wall consistently ranks as one of the most popular premiers in Canada in public opinion polls and has tried to paint himself as the defender of Saskatchewan throughout the campaign.
Even if the Saskatchewan Party wins a third term, it would have a way to go before reaching some of the other political dynasties in Saskatchewan.
The Liberals won the first nine general elections in Saskatchewan from 1905 to 1938.
The Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, the predecessor to the NDP, won five terms from 1944 to 1960, and the NDP won four terms from 1991 to 2003.