Another incumbent agriculture minister easily held his seat as Saskatchewan’s governing Saskatchewan Party scored another decisive majority in Monday’s provincial election.
David Marit, MLA for the southwestern riding of Wood River since 2016, held his seat by a spread of 5,177 votes over the New Democrats’ challenger, teacher Roger Morgan, with 459 mail-in ballots remaining to be counted.
Marit farms at Fife Lake, about 150 km south of Moose Jaw, and served as president of the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities before running for provincial office. He was moved from the highways portfolio to the ag file in 2018, as Lyle Stewart stepped down from the ag post to undergo treatment for cancer.
Stewart, the MLA for Lumsden-Morse and ag minister from 2012 to 2018, also easily held his seat Monday by a spread of 4,507 votes over NDP challenger Nic Lewis, with 850 mail-in ballots still to be counted.
Ryan Meili’s opposition New Democrats, as of late Monday night, were elected or leading in 11 ridings, compared to 50 for Scott Moe’s Saskatchewan Party, which for the NDP would mean a net gain of just one seat over the 2016 election.
Several ridings, however, remained too close to call, with a total of 61,255 mail-in ballots to be tallied when the final count is held starting Nov. 7.
As with British Columbia’s provincial election held Saturday, the mail-in ballots — an option that got a major boost due to the COVID-19 pandemic — could still tip close contests one way or the other.
The NDP’s incumbent agriculture critic, Regina Northeast MLA Yens Pedersen, is one such example. As of Monday night, with 50 of 50 ballot boxes reporting, he was trailing Saskatchewan Party challenger Gary Grewal by 615 votes — but with 1,270 mail-in ballots remaining.
A Regina lawyer who grew up on a family farm at Cut Knife, about 50 km west of North Battleford, Pedersen had just come to office in a 2018 byelection against Grewal, held to fill a vacant seat after Saskatchewan Party cabinet minister Kevin Doherty resigned.
If Pedersen is defeated in the final vote count, the NDP again has a limited pool of obvious candidates for the agriculture critic’s job.
Among those may be Carla Beck, a Regina social worker and school board trustee and the MLA for Regina Lakeview since 2016. Beck also grew up on a family farm, near Lang, about 45 km northwest of Weyburn.
Beck on Monday night was leading Saskatchewan Party challenger Megan Patterson by a spread of 1,462 votes with 48 of 48 ballot boxes reporting — and another 2,127 mail-in ballots remaining to be counted. — Glacier FarmMedia Network