To prepare for the upcoming Nov. 7 provincial election, the Sheaf interviewed the four official candidates for the Saskatoon Sutherland riding.
The constituency encompasses the University of Saskatchewan and the neighbourhoods of Varsity View, Greystone Heights, Grosvenor Park, College Park, College Park East and Sutherland.
The NDP dominated the urban riding from 1986 to 2007, when Saskatchewan Party candidate and former police officer Joceline Schriemer beat NDP incumbent Graham Addley by just three per cent.
With Schriemer pulling the plug on her political career to once again join the police force, Saskatoon Sutherland is a four-way race between first-time candidates.
Naveed Anwar, Saskatoon Sutherland
New Democratic Party of Saskatchewan
Naveed Anwar has had a passion for politics since his time as a student and hopes to bring that sentiment to the Saskatchewan legislature as the NDP candidate for Saskatoon Sutherland.
A first-time candidate, Anwar says fair representation for the people is what inspired him to enter the race.
“I guess it’s service to the people,” Anwar told the Sheaf. “People need fair representation instead of some interest groups” getting favourable treatment.
Anwar says he was drawn to the NDP because of his interest in left-leaning social democracy.
“We see affordability as the major issue in Saskatchewan right now,” he said. “From rent to tuition to all kinds of utilities, affordability is the major issue right now.”
The NDP has promised to enact a tuition freeze if elected. This has drawn criticism from University of Saskatchewan President Peter MacKinnon while garnering praise from the Canadian Federation of Students, a national student lobbying organization.*
“Affordability to the student is a big concern,” Anwar said. “Freezes on wages are also an issue, because if you don’t earn [enough] you can’t live” well.
In addition to a tuition freeze and an examination of how to increase wages in the province, Anwar mentioned rent-controlled housing, which the NDP has pushed hard. It would cap rent increases at two per cent per year.
Quebec has provincial rent control measures implemented similar to what the NDP might institute in Saskatchewan, given the chance. A two-bedroom apartment in Montreal costs and average of $703 per month. By contrast, Saskatoon residents pay on average $936 for a comparable apartment.
Paul Merriman, Saskatoon Sutherland
After watching his father serve one term as a provincial MLA for the Saskatchewan Party, Paul Merriman now hopes to make his own mark as the Sask. Party candidate for Saskatoon Sutherland.
Merriman is the son of Ted Merriman, who was the MLA for Saskatoon Northwest from 2003 to ’07. After one term he dropped out of politics due to family health concerns.
Now, with eight years under his belt working for SaskEnergy, and as the executive director of the Saskatoon Food Bank, the younger Merriman feels he can bring fiscal responsibility and moderation to the Sask. Party.
“I think the Sask Party has a very good balance of what’s going on in the province, and I think that comes right from our roots, right from the conservative and liberal blend of the party that gives us that broad political spectrum,” Merriman told the Sheaf.
Merriman has taken time off from his duties at the food bank to concentrate on the campaign, and specifically on door-knocking.
“The riding is diverse with lots of different issues, from student housing and tuition to seniors,” said Merriman. “And, actually, Saskatoon Sutherland has a very large immigrant community.”
He says he has spent a lot of time on doorsteps working through immigration and seniors issues, and also talking about health care and education.
“Some people are happy and some people are not so happy,” Merriman said.
He mentioned that door-knocking during the teachers’ strike was particularly “rough,” but said that, as father of four children, he sees both sides of the argument.
According to Merriman, it’s important to view the issues we’re faced with by taking a step back and using common sense. He said it’s about finding a balance between social programming and the importance of the economy.
“We have to make sure we have the economic machine that is allowing us to generate revenue to let us have the support service programs.”
Larry Waldinger, Saskatoon Sutherland
Green Party of Saskatchewan
If you’ve noticed bicycles embedded with Green Party signs on campus and in Sutherland this fall, then it’s already a personal victory for
Waldinger is the Green Party candidate for Saskatoon Sutherland, and the man is a campaigning machine.
With an election budget only a fraction of that compared to the two major parties, Waldinger has canvased obsessively and used unconventional advertising strategies in an attempt to be somewhat competitive in a riding traditionally dominated by the NDP and the Saskatchewan Party.
“The [NDP] claim to represent the 99 per cent, while taking donations from the 1 per cent, whereas the Sask. Party is the 1 per cent, and they are the ones squeezing the 99 per cent,” Waldinger told the Sheaf, referencing the rallying cry of the Occupy protests. “The Green Party on the other hand is the 99 per cent, they represent the 99 per cent and they can only receive donations from the 99 per cent.”
Waldinger said so far he has raked in more donations than any other provincial Green candidate, with 75 per cent of total donations to the party. He hopes the connections he has made with small donors will translate to votes on Nov. 7.
Waldinger was born in Regina, grew up in Saskatoon and attended the University of Saskatchewan where he studied psychology. He later received an education degree and went on to teach grade school in Los Angeles, Calif. in the early 1990s, where he also started up his own limousine service.
He moved back to Saskatoon in 2007, traded in his vehicles for a bike and now works part-time as a city bus driver.
“Climate-change is our signature issue,” Waldinger said. “It has been neglected in our federal and provincial elections.”
But Waldinger noted they are not a one-issue party. He said the Green Party of Saskatchewan is strongly pushing for lower postsecondary education costs and called the concerns about “corporatization” at the U of S a “major concern.”
According to their platform, a Green government will restore provincial funding to school districts, restore funding to postsecondary institutions and eliminate tuition over four years.
Waldinger also feels resource royalties need to be drastically increased and the tax system reformed to better accommodate low-income families.
He admits it’s a “David versus Goliath” battle, but nonetheless appears optimistic that the distribution of wealth will someday be more equal in Canada.
“We can do whatever we want. We are a powerful, highly technologically advanced civilization. Only 2 per cent of our production is used for food, so I consider the other 98 per cent of what we do as discretionary.”
Kaleb Jeffries, Saskatoon Sutherland
Liberal Party of Saskatchewan
Though he has been interested in politics and news for most of his life, University of Saskatchewan student Kaleb Jeffries was inspired to enter politics after meeting Saskatchewan Liberal Party leader, Ryan Bater.
“He’s just a normal person you can walk up and talk with,” Jeffries told the Sheaf via email. “As I became more familiar with the ideas Ryan Bater and the Saskatchewan Liberal Party were putting forward, I recognized that we need these ideas and a new voice represented in the legislature.”
Jeffries says people in Saskatchewan are growing weary of the back-and-forth bickering between the Saskatchewan Party and the NDP, and that the Liberals offer a “better way to do politics in Saskatchewan.”
“I know many people in our community are tired of the two other parties constantly fighting and attacking each other, instead of focusing on practical and creative ways to secure our province’s future.”
The increasing amount of debt families and students are shouldering is one of Jeffries’ pet campaign issues. The Liberal Party plans to push for removing the income of a students’ parents from his or her eligibility for loans. Jeffries says this will allow students to “invest in education while keeping their career options open.”
This year’s election will mark the first time since 1956 that the provincial Liberals haven’t fielded a full slate of candidates. Jeffries is only one of nine running for office on Nov. 7 as the party is pouring most of its resources into party leader Ryan Bater’s constituency in the Battlefords. Jeffries was not available for a photograph.
Clarification: An earlier version of this article stated that the University of Saskatchewan is not affiliated with the Canadian Federation of Students. In fact, graduate students at the U of S are represented by CFS, but undergraduates are not.
Photos: Raisa Pezderic/The Sheaf