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NDP incurs devastating losses; Lingenfelter steps down

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In its worst placement since 1982, the NDP lost 11 seats and saw its vote share dip by five per cent. Reduced to nine Members of the Legislative Assembly, the opposition caucus faces an uncertain future. Party leader Dwain Lingenfelter was defeated in Regina Douglas Park. He is the first provincial NDP or Co-operative Commonwealth Federation leader in Saskatchewan history to ever lose his seat.

Lingenfelter waited until 10 p.m. to address the people and press at NDP headquarters, at which point he thanked everyone for their hard work and stepped down as leader of the party. He took full responsibility for the NDP’s showing, telling supporters the fault was his alone.

“Not your fault at all, it was mine,” he said. “And for that, I say I am sorry.”

After an election the Sask. Party successfully framed as one about leadership, Lingenfelter acknowledged the appeal of the 45-year-old premier.

“Brad Wall is a very, very popular leader,” Lingenfelter said of his rival. He added that the province’s economy is performing well, which helped the incumbent Sask. Party, but that this is also due to “the structure put in place by [NDP premiers] Lorne Calvert and Roy Romanow.”

In addition to Lingenfelter, the NDP caucus lost its two other top leaders, who were both defeated by Sask. Party candidates.

Deputy leader Deb Higgins has represented Moose Jaw Wakamow since 1999, but was defeated by Greg Lawrence. Judy Junor, the caucus chair for the NDP, lost to Corey Tochor in the Saskatoon Eastview constituency she was first elected to in a 1998 by-election, and which she has represented ever since.

Tochor is a young entrepreneur whose business is related to the health care industry.

Without any of the traditional leadership figures to guide them, the already marginal NDP caucus will face an even steeper battle to mount an effective opposition in legislature.

Speculation had already begun on election night as to who might make a run for the party’s leadership. MLAs Cam Broten and Trent Wotherspoon, both re-elected on Nov. 7, are seen as potential candidates. Broten has served as education critic and is MLA for the Saskatoon Massey Place constituency. Wotherspoon was critic of finance, SaskPower and SaskEnergy and will once again represent the Regina Rosemont area.

File photo: Sask NDP/Flickr

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