The leader of the Saskatchewan Liberals says party members have some soul-searching to do, following another provincial election with no seats gained.
Ryan Bater, who concentrated his efforts on The Battlefords constituency west of Saskatoon, was defeated, along with eight other Liberal hopefuls in the Nov. 7 vote.
The party deliberately choose to run a limited slate and wound up with an overall popular vote of 0.6 per cent.
"In the end we did everything we could," Bater said after the results were known. "We fought a really good fight here. I'm very proud of that. But in the end sometimes the dynamics just aren't there to be able to have that success that we wanted."
Bater attributed the Saskatchewan Party's success to the strong appeal of their leader, Brad Wall.
"We don't like the result," he added. "But we respect the wishes of voters."
Liberal fortunes in Saskatchewan have been trending downwards for several years. David Karwacki led the party through two campaigns, in 2003 and 2007, which also resulted in no Liberal wins and a declining popular vote.
When Bater took over the leadership, his election in The Battlefords became their primary mission.
The party closed its office in Regina and moved all resources to Bater's base in The Battlefords where he invested two years trying to raise his profile in the constituency.
Instead of upsetting the incumbent NDP candidate, though, voters went to the Saskatchewan Party's Herb Cox.
The unofficial results were:
- Herb Cox - SP: 3,489 votes (elected)
- Len Taylor - NDP: 2,436 votes
- Ryan Bater - Lib.: 805 votes
- Owen Swiderski - Grn: 91 votes
"Our thesis was, everyday I'm away from The Battlefords is a day I could have spent here, campaigning," he said during the campaign. "All that matters is winning a seat."
With the results in hand, Bater's reaction was sombre.
"Moving forward, the members of the party are going to continue doing some soul-searching," he said. "I think I, personally, am going to be doing some soul-searching."
When asked about his intentions as leader, Bater said he wanted to soldier on.
"I have every intention to stick around as leader," he said. "Of course, it’s not really my decision in the end."