Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall was re-elected with a majority of seats in the Canadian prairie province’s legislature, helped by an economy that’s projected to grow faster than most others in Canada.
The Saskatchewan Party, which has been in power since 2007, were set to win 49 of 58 districts, compared with 9 for the New Democratic Party, according to preliminary results posted on the provincial election agency’s website. The ruling party won about 64 percent of the popular vote, compared with 32 percent for the NDP.
Saskatchewan has the country’s lowest unemployment rates and one of the fastest-growing economies, helped by booming exports of potash, oil and crops. The province, with about 1 million people in an area slightly larger than France, will probably see growth of 4.3 percent this year and 4.1 percent in 2012, according to a September report by Royal Bank of Canada.
The unemployment rate, at 4.1 percent, is the lowest in the country and compares with 7.3 percent for the country as a whole.
It was Wall’s second win as leader after a 2007 victory over the incumbent New Democrats. Wall, 45, worked as a business developer for his home town of Swift Current before being elected to the legislature in 1999, according to his campaign website. Since forming the government, Wall’s administration has reduced provincial debt by C$3 billion ($3 billion), or 44 percent of the total debt, according to the party’s website.
The Saskatchewan Party held 38 seats in the legislature before the election, with the New Democratic Party holding the other 20.
Opposition Leader Defeated
New Democratic Party Leader Dwain Lingenfelter campaigned on a platform that proposed dental care for children and a freeze on post-secondary tuition fees, paid for by higher royalties on potash, according to the party’s website. He was defeated in his own constituency and announced his resignation as party leader. In contrast, Wall has promised balanced budgets and investments in roads.
In a March fiscal plan, Wall’s government projected a C$47.7 million surplus in the fiscal year that began in April. Saskatchewan has C$8.7 billion in outstanding bonds, with C$356 million due next year, according to Bloomberg data. The province’s debt rating was raised in May to AAA by Standard & Poor’s, with a stable outlook.
The rating reflects “healthy GDP and operating revenue growth,” credit analysts Mario Angastiniotis and Stephen Ogilvie of Standard & Poor’s wrote in a note to investors in July. The province received transfers from the Canadian federal government worth C$2.1 billion in fiscal 2012, S&P said.
Potash and oil were the province’s main non-renewable commodity exports, while lentils and wheat are among the leading agricultural products exports.
The prairie province has benefited from booming demand for potash, a mineral fertilizer, around the world, as well as for agricultural crops such as pulses and canola oil.