'Where are we going to go from here?': PPC and Green Party regroup after failing to get seats in Sask.
Minority parties failed to impact outcomes across province
Looking up at a television in a banquet room at a Saskatoon pizza place, Mark Friesen felt a gut punch as a Liberal minority was elected. Then another came as his party's leader lost his seat.
Friesen had campaigned in the Saskatoon-Grasswood riding for Maxime Bernier's People's Party of Canada. The party that failed to gain a single seat across Canada on Monday.
"Where are we going to go from here? The party obviously has some work to do and to decide what direction we're going to go," Friesen, who received about 1.4 per cent of the vote in his riding, said.
The PPC's Saskatoon candidates set up their headquarters at Venice House in the Sutherland neighbourhood, crowding in with more than two-dozen volunteers and family members to see how their newborn party fared.
For Friesen, watching Bernier fail to get his seat in his Quebec riding was less painful than seeing the Liberals elected.
"It's pretty shattering," Friesen said.
The crew in the room, mostly people who defected from supporting the Conservative Party when Bernier formed the PPC, have spent the past year telling people the PPC exists and then trying to sway people to vote for its candidates.
It was a tall order for the newborn party's first election and for a crew of candidates in Saskatchewan who largely had zero political experience. They didn't have the benefit of name recognition or of big money behind them, noted University of Saskatchewan political studies department head Loleen Berdahl.
"To their credit, I think it's got to be very challenging for people to run knowing that their chances of winning are slim to none," she said.
In the end, the party did not gain a seat in Saskatchewan or anywhere else in Canada..
The Green Party also failed to get a seat in the province. Between the two parties, the Greens got the highest percentage, faring best overall in the Regina ridings.
Naomi Hunter, the Green Party candidate in Regina-Lewvan, received 4.1 per cent of the vote in her riding, the most of any Green candidate in the province.
"As I took this on I wanted people to see that a Green Party candidate could campaign as though they completely, 100 per cent believed they were going to win. And I feel that I approached this campaign in exactly that manner," Hunter said.
Minority parties failed to impact outcomes across province, where Conservative candidates took major leads above other candidates in all ridings.
The closest race was Saskatoon West, where Conservative candidate Brad Redekopp unseated incumbent Sheri Benson by a margin of about nine per cent of the vote. Votes for the Green Party and PPC amounted for a total of only 4.5 per cent of the vote, meaning that they did not contribute to any vote splitting.
Hunter said this is not the end of her involvement in federal politics. She said the Green candidates who attended debates in the province during the campaign took note of what the successful candidates said.
"We need to keep showing up and reminding them if they break those promises. Our job isn't done because the election day is done. We are more than just candidates. We are accountability-holders," Hunter said.
Meanwhile, the PPC candidates in the Saskatoon ridings are processing what just happened.
Saskatoon West PPC candidate Isaac Hayes, who got two per cent of the vote in the riding, said he feels he did a lot of work to promote Conservative values by showing up for debates and forums, yet the Conservative Party candidate got the benefit of his work.
"Did it win for our party, or did it give a whole bunch of free momentum for another party? That's another one of those factors we have to look at," Hayes said.
"Right now I'm a little bit disappointed."
PPC candidate Guto Penteado, who received 1.4 per cent of votes in Saskatoon-University, said he and his fellow candidates didn't have the benefit of big money that the big parties have behind their campaign efforts.
It meant they had to spend their own money to campaign. That made for a sad room when those efforts went unrewarded.
"Our work now is to work as an alarm clock to wake up the real Conservatives of this country," Penteado said.
Friesen said it's time for the PPC to take a look at its existing positions and what to do with them in the future.
"We've been rushed a lot, we're only a year old, to put everything together, to get ready for this election. So I imagine the party itself will take some time to reflect and maybe take things a little slower but be ready for the next election," he said.
By the numbers
PPC and Green Party candidates with the most percentage of votes in Sask:
- Naomi Hunter, Green Party for Regina-Lewvan, 4.1 per cent.
- Chey Craik, PPC for Moose Jaw-Lake Centre-Lanigan, 3.6 per cent.
PPC and Green Party candidates with more than 1,000 votes in Sask.:
- Naomi Hunter, Green Party for Regina-Lewvan, 1,934 votes.
- Chey Craik, PPC for Moose Jaw-Lake Centre-Lanigan, 1,522 votes.
- Jan Norris, Green Party in Saskatoon-University, 1,353 votes.
- Neil Sinclair, Green Party for Saskatoon-Grasswood, 1,202.
- Dale Dewar, Green Party for Regina Qu'Appelle, 1,194.
- Tamela Friesen, Green Party for Regina-Wascana, 1,174.
- Gillian Walker, Green Party for Moose Jaw-Lake Centre-Lanigan, 1,102 votes.
- Stacey Wiebe, Green Party in Yorkton-Melville, 1,032 votes.
- Lee Harding, PPC in Cypress Hills-Grasslands, 1,019 votes.