Provincial elections in British Columbia and Saskatchewan have returned the ruling parties to power and left the opposition parties with new questions about leadership and direction.
Paul Rowe, professor of political science at Trinity Western University in Langley, B.C., told The Epoch Times that neither Wilkinson’s electoral defeat nor his resignation were surprising.
“The NDP entered the race with the upper hand. They are the incumbent government currently handling the pandemic and they got to choose the date of the election. Low turnout amid pandemic restrictions, with people thinking about other priorities, benefited the incumbent government,” Rowe said.
“The Liberals did not offer a compelling reason why they should take leadership from the NDP, in spite of the opportunistic timing of the election. They took a defensive strategy of catering to their usual base while the NDP targeted marginal ridings in Langley they had never won, especially with promises about expanding public transit.”
NDP wins were confined to Regina, Saskatoon, and the north of the province.
“It seems like the NDP is just not listening to people in the rural areas,” said James Pitsula, history professor emeritus at the University of Regina.
“I was almost shocked at how small their vote was through rural Saskatchewan. It was just astonishing when you think of the history of the province.”
The party placed third in votes, and four candidates placed second in southeast and southwest parts of the province.
Pitsula said a push for independence is new for Saskatchewan, but the sentiment behind it is not.
“There’s always been this regionalism, and this fight against Ottawa, and fight against central Canada and the banks and the railroads and the grain companies and the tariffs and the federal government. And you can even link that to [Louis] Riel, because Riel was anti-Ottawa also,” he said.
Looking ahead, University of Saskatchewan professor Greg Poelzer said Moe will be challenged to appease both right-wing and centrist voters and to address western alienation while staying committed to Canada.
The NDP faces even tougher battles.
“They’ve got to do a serious retool if they're going to be viable, but I'm not sure that the activist left part of the party will let any water mix with their wine,” Poelzer said. “They've got some serious structural policy and ideological issues that they’re going to [have to] sort out to come up with a new vision.”