Saskatchewan ag minister, ag critic return in election

Saskatchewan Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart, shown here at Ag in Motion in 2015, plans to leave the post following a recent cancer diagnosis. (File photo by Lisa Guenther)

Saskatchewan’s agriculture minister and opposition ag critic both easily held their ridings Monday night as the governing Saskatchewan Party completed its electoral hat trick.

By about 1 a.m. Tuesday, Premier Brad Wall’s Saskatchewan Party had won 51 of 61 ridings, for a third straight majority mandate coming out of Monday’s general election.

The opposition New Democrats, meanwhile, won just 10 seats and NDP leader Cam Broten was unseated in his riding of Saskatoon Westview.

Lyle Stewart, the Saskatchewan Party’s agriculture minister since 2012, won his redrawn riding of Lumsden-Morse over NDP candidate Rhonda Phillips, a town councillor in Lumsden, by a spread of almost 4,500 votes.

Stewart, a rancher at Pense, Sask., about 30 km west of Regina, has been a Saskatchewan Party MLA since 1999 and previously served as the party’s agriculture critic during its stint in opposition.

The New Democrats’ incumbent agriculture critic, Cathy Sproule, held her riding of Saskatoon Nutana by a spread of over 1,300 votes against Saskatchewan Party candidate Jamie Brandrick, a former deputy mayor for the village of Borden.

Raised on a farm in southern Saskatchewan, Sproule was a federal government lawyer specializing in aboriginal law before winning her first election in the Nutana riding in 2011.

Sproule, the party’s ag critic since late 2011, has also served as the party’s critic for rural affairs, Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corp., environment, tourism, parks, SaskPower and the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA), among others.

If Wall returns to the legislature with a cabinet shuffle, other possible candidates for the agriculture file include returning Arm River MLA Greg Brkich, previously a legislative secretary to the minister of agriculture, and Humboldt-Watrous MLA Donna Harpauer, the party’s former agriculture critic during its spell in opposition.

Both the Saskatchewan Party and NDP boosted their seat count from the 2011 election, when they won 49 and nine seats respectively, due to a redrawn electoral map with three additional ridings.

The Saskatchewan Party finished Monday night with an only slightly smaller share of the popular vote, at 62.6 per cent, down from 64 in 2011. The NDP took up about 30.4 per cent, down from about 32 per cent in 2011. The provincial Liberals and Green Party took about 3.6 and 1.9 per cent of Monday’s vote respectively. — Network

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