Scott Moe to call Saskatchewan election for Oct. 26

Saskatchewan to go to polls

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says he plans to kick off the provincial election campaign today.

Moe told reporters in Saskatoon on Monday that he will be visiting the province's lieutenant-governor to ask that the legislature be dissolved.

Voters go to the polls Oct. 26.

Saskatchewan is the latest province to call an election during the COVID-19 pandemic; British Columbia's vote is to take place two days earlier.

Moe has opted for the shortest possible campaign — 28 days, the minimum time allowed — before the fixed election date.

The official launch will be without the typical fanfare of past elections, as the pandemic prevents having crowds at rallies.

Candidates have already been door knocking for weeks.

The Opposition NDP has rolled out pre-campaign pledges that include $25-a-day child care and $100 rebate cheques for drivers. Moe's Saskatchewan Party government has made a flurry of previously committed infrastructure spending announcements.

Moe is seeking a fourth term for the party and his first mandate from voters as premier. He got the top job after winning the party's leadership in 2018, when premier Brad Wall decided to retire from politics.

Moe has said voters this year will have to consider which party they trust to revive the province's economy. He said spending decisions will be tempered by the goal of eliminating the projected $2.1-billion deficit by 2024.

“Fiscal prudence is among one of the very hallmarks of this party and it’s always a goal," he said in a pre-campaign interview.

NDP Leader Ryan Meili has said his party will be bold in the campaign and he hopes voters will see the New Democrats as an option for change.

"They haven’t seen enough from us yet to know, and this is what a campaign is about."

Jim Farney, head of politics and international studies at the University of Regina, said the stakes are high for the NDP this time around. A good showing, he said, would between 20 and 25 seats.

But if there’s a repeat of past elections, with increasingly fewer seats, Farney said he can't imagine "how people don’t start looking around the party and going 'something is fundamentally wrong.’"

Farney said Moe's message is that the province is operating as near to normal as possible during the pandemic. Problems could arise for Moe if the number of COVID-19 positive cases jumps in schools, and parents in their 30s and 40s — who are swing voters — mobilize, he added.

While the Saskatchewan Party appears to have a lock on the support of rural residents, key battlegrounds will be in Regina, Saskatoon and Moose Jaw, Farney suggested.

“That’s going to be (Moe's) political challenge," he said. "Can (Moe) pitch a message that appeals to suburban voters?"

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