Early election not on the minds of Sask. Party leader hopefuls

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Early election not on the minds of Sask. Party leader hopefuls

A Saskatchewan professor said the next leader of the Saskatchewan Party might be enticed by the idea of an early election. 

"I think it's going to be a tempting option," said Ken Rasmussen, a professor at the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy at the University of Regina .

The new leader of the Saskatchewan Party is facing a "real terrible choice," he said.

"Do you continue down the path of more austerity and drive the party into deeper depths of unpopularity or do you try to hope that oil will increase and start, you know, using deficits and lots of borrowing?"  

"Neither of those are attractive choices, but I think one of them is going to have to be the direction they go in," said ​Rasmussen, adding that an early election is one way to avoid that choice.

The province's 29th general election is set to happen in November 2020. 

Politicians save the fixed date 

All candidates who aim to lead the province rejected the idea.  

"I haven't had the public asking me that," Alanna Koch said Wednesday. "It would be, I think, a waste of taxpayers' dollars to have an election early."

Tina Beaudry-Mellor said she hasn't heard it come up on the campaign trail.

"It's not something that I'm hearing the public has a demand for, so obviously we'll consider it if that becomes an issue but it certainly isn't now."

Gord Wyant said it's not his intention to call an early election either.

"We're right in the middle of the budget discussions. We want to get through that," he said. "We have set election dates in this province and I'm going to respect the legislation."

"We've got a date set in 2020 and are working very hard to make sure that people are prepared for that election," Ken Cheveldayoff said. 

Scott Moe said the same. 

"We set election dates a couple of elections ago, which we manoeuvred for a federal election, and you know we'll look to return that to those set election times as we move forward."

Chief electoral officer raised separate concerns about date 

Last spring, Saskatchewan's chief electoral officer released a paper addressing the overlap of municipal and provincial elections in 2020.

He did so "knowing that municipal and provincial elections are currently scheduled to be held just five days apart," a spokesperson for Elections Saskatchewan said in an email. 

"He provided provincial legislators with three options for resolving this problem and awaits further discussion with legislators."

One option is to extend the term of the provincial government and hold an election in spring 2021, and then the elections would go back into the legislated cycles.

The second was to move the municipal elections to the spring and the third was to move the provincial election to the spring of 2020.

​Saskatchewan's Ministry of Government Relations is responsible for the ​Local Government Election Act, and that will be open for amendments in the fall, a spokesperson for the provincial government said in an email.

​"​This ​c​ould include changing the municipal election date, if the determination is made that there would be a change to the municipal election dates​," the spokesperson said.

"If there is a decision to shift the provincial election date, Justice would do the legwork on amending on the Elections Act.​"​

​Furthermore, the spokesperson said Government Relations is waiting on feedback on potential changes from members of the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association and Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities.

Recommendations would be put forth to cabinet once that feedback is reviewed.

"With a new premier to be determined by the end of the month, it is anticipated that it will be their decision to make in advance of that fall 2018 legislation review.​​"​