Provincial election campaign kicks off in Saskatchewan

It’s official — Saskatchewan’s provincial election is underway and politicians will be hitting the campaign trail, keeping COVID-19 restrictions and precautions in mind. 

Premier Scott Moe met with Lt.-Gov. Russ Mirasty Tuesday morning. 

“I’ve requested him to dissolve the legislative assembly and to issue the proclamation to begin the writ for the 29th election here in the province of Saskatchewan,” Moe said, speaking briefly after the meeting. 

On Monday, he noted that “the official writ period will be as short as possible” for the 2020 election. The campaign period leading up to the election on Oct. 26 will take place amid challenges raised by the coronavirus.

For an Oct. 26 election date, Moe could have made the election call any time between Sept. 21 and Sept. 30. By law, Saskatchewan’s electoral period is a maximum of 34 days and a minimum of 27.

Moe plans to formally launch his campaign with the Saskatchewan Party later Tuesday morning. NDP Leader Ryan Meili kicked off his campaign in Regina Tuesday morning, flanked by party candidates. 

There are currently six registered political parties in Saskatchewan, including the Buffalo Party of Saskatchewan, the Saskatchewan New Democratic Party (NDP), the Progressive Conservative Party of Saskatchewan, the Saskatchewan Green Party, the Saskatchewan Liberal Party and the Saskatchewan Party.

Voters will be asked to choose members of the legislative assembly to represent 61 constituencies across the province.

At the time of dissolution, the Sask. Party held 46 seats in the legislature, and the NDP held 13. The remaining two seats were vacant.

A first-past-the-post system is used for Saskatchewan elections, which means each voter is allowed to cast one vote for one of the candidates in their constituency. The candidate with the most votes wins.

Voters can register to vote by mail, or they can vote in person at physically distanced polls, either in advance or on election day. People who want to vote by mail must register by Oct. 15

While Moe’s election call marks the start of the official campaign race, there has already been a flurry of pre-election activity with doorknocking, ads, mailers and a heavy reliance on social media posts.

Meili, whose party held Official Opposition status when the legislature was dissolved, has made several pre-election promises in recent weeks.

The Saskatchewan NDP, led by Ryan Meili, left, held Official Opposition status when the legislature was dissolved. Saskatchewan Party Leader Scott Moe, right, is seeking a fourth consecutive term for his party. (The Canadian Press)

Moe, whose Saskatchewan Party is seeking a fourth consecutive term this year, was also busy travelling around the province for more than two weeks to announce future school and municipality projects. He has denied that these were pre-election photo-ops or that he used taxpayer-funded government communications to campaign.

A recent survey found the Saskatchewan Party had a strong lead among respondents.

In a survey conducted from Sept. 1 to 3 by the University of Saskatchewan’s Canadian Hub for Applied and Social Research, in partnership with PostMedia News and CBC Saskatchewan, 29 per cent of the representative sample of 400 people said they intended to vote for the Sask. Party, compared to 14 per cent for the NDP.

At that point, more than a third of respondents stated they didn’t know who they would vote for if a provincial election were held mid-September.

How to follow results on Saskatchewan election night

CBC Saskatchewan will be home for all your election coverage on Oct. 26.

Live election coverage, which will be hosted by CBC’s Sam Maciag, will begin at 7:30 p.m. CST. 

Watch online: Live streaming online at CBC Saskatchewan and CBC Saskatoon websites, CBC Gem, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube

Watch on TV: Live on CBC Television beginning at 7:30 p.m. CST (check your TV service provider for channel). The program will be available on CBC News Network beginning at 8 p.m. CST. 

Listen: Live on CBC Radio One (540 AM; 102.5 FM in Regina; 94.1 FM in Saskatoon) or listen online.

Follow and join the conversation on social media by using #skvotes.