Cam Broten makes debut as NDP leader in legislature
Broten, 34, takes exception to being called 'old guard' NDP
The newly-minted leader of Saskatchewan's NDP took shots at age references during Question Period in the provincial legislature Monday.
Cam Broten, who won a close leadership contest Saturday, pointed out to Premier Brad Wall that he does not like being called part of an old guard.
"Suggesting that myself, as a 34-year-old, was part of the old guard," Broten said. "I may have a little bit of gray hair, but if 34 is part of the old guard I think that is news to most Saskatchewan people."
Wall, in the exchange, did not back down from his view that Broten should be associated with former NDP leader Dwain Lingenfelter.
"The Lingenfelter platform and his leadership platform were almost identical," Wall told the legislature.
Broten, for his part, stuck with questions about employment and education and said it was a mistake to cut educational assistants from many classrooms.
Later Wall made it clear that he will continue to challenge Broten to distinguish the party from past.
"I think the challenge for him is going to be proving that they have a new leader but it's not still the same old NDP," Wall said.
Broten said, after Question Period, that he plans to ensure his party is consulting voters.
"What I'm looking forward to, right now, is how we as the new NDP here in the province can do better [than the results of the 2011 election]," he said, talking about the party's drop to just nine seats. "How we can come forward with policies. How we can listen to Saskatchewan people to ensure that we're bringing forward the best ideas and we're actually thinking long term for the province's best interests."
Broten also made some changes to duties for members of the official Opposition.
Another leadership contender, Trent Wotherspoon was made deputy leader.
Interim leader John Nilson becomes health critic.
Broten has also assumed critic responsibilities — for himself — of Executive Council, First Nations and Métis Relations, Intergovernmental Affairs and Immigration.
Prior to Monday's session at the legislature, Broten said he was keen to tap into the energy created by the leadership race.
"People are excited about the future of the NDP," Broten said. "There's a mood now for people to come together and unite and do the work that we need to do."
Cam Broten biographical notes
Born: Regina. Raised in northern Saskatchewan (La Loche, Green Lake, Meadow Lake, La Ronge) and Saskatoon.
Education: University of Saskatchewan (Bachelor degree in International Studies); Simon Fraser University (Master degree in Political Science).
- Professional background: Former health policy manager for the Saskatchewan Medical Association and policy analyst with Saskatchewan Culture, Youth and Recreation. Also spent eight seasons as a tree planter.
- Married to Ruth. They have two daughters, Ingrid and Clara.
- Politics: First elected in Saskatoon Massey Place in 2007. Re-elected in 2011.
With files from CBC's Stefani Langenegger and The Canadian Press