Saskatchewan set as political battleground in 2015 election
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Experts say Saskatchewan is set to become a battleground province in Canada’s 2015 election, as a redrawing of federal electoral boundaries may shake up the Conservative's stronghold.
Since 2004, the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) has swept competition in almost all of the province’s 14 seats, with at least 85 per cent of seats held by conservative MPs over the last 10 years.
However, Dennis Pilon, a political scientist and a professor at York University, says opposition parties have a more realistic shot in 2015.
“I think that we’ll see parties make appeals to voters that say ‘We could win’ in a way that, in the past, just didn’t seem realistic,” Pilon said.
Last August, electoral ridings in Saskatoon and Regina were redrawn, causing hybrid ridings that included both urban and rural populations to became strictly urban, with three ridings in Saskatoon and two in Regina.
Pilon says this has caused all three parties to focus more on Saskatchewan as some seats in the province—which he says was a “vote bank,” as a result of the Conservative’s rural voting base—are now up for grabs.
“All three parties have got some roots in Saskatchewan,” he said.
“There’s Ralph Goodale, who is a Liberal MP from Saskatchewan, of course the NDP is seen as a strong force in the province and then the Conservatives have considerable support as well,” he said.
“So all three parties are unsure what this new map will do.”
Greg Poelzer, a political scientist and a associate professor at the University of Saskatchewan, agreed with Pilon, saying that the shuffle in Regina and Saskatoon may mean more competition for the CPC.
“Generally they’re going to be safe in most of their seats,” he said.
"In Regina, and in particular in Saskatoon, I think they have a couple of battles on their hands.”
And with Saskatchewan becoming a larger economic player in Canada, Poelzer said it’s a province all parties will be keeping their eye on.
“What’s really important about Saskatchewan is that it’s not only our change in our growth and population,” he said. “But we’re becoming much more of an economic force within the confederation.”
“Saskatchewan matters more today than it ever has in Canadian history.”