The New Democrats have in place their Battlefords area candidates for the upcoming federal and provincial elections.
For the Battlefords electoral district, Amber Stewart has taken their provincial nomination by acclamation.
The nomination comes as no surprise as Stewart, executive director of the Battlefords and Area Sexual Assault Centre, had been actively running for the NDP nomination since June.
For the federal nomination in Battlefords-Lloydminster, Marcella Pedersen has also been acclaimed. Pedersen, a certified reflexologist involved in farming and beekeeping in the Cut Knife area, is a long time NDP activist. She is also the mother of Regina Northeast MLA Yens Pedersen.
Pedersen joins four other nominated candidates in the federal election in Battlefords-Lloydminster, including incumbent Conservative MP Rosemarie Falk, Larry Ingram of the Liberals, David Kim-Cragg of the Green Party and Jason MacInnis of the People’s Party of Canada.
In her acceptance speech, Pedersen expressed support for social justice causes, energy efficiency, better rail infrastructure and transit options, electric vehicles, healthy food and nutrition including food sovereignty, and for lowering the carbon footprint.
“My focus is on people — people before profit,” Pedersen said.
“A lot of our problems are caused by multinational corporations and governments have very little influence, it seems, to counteract that.”
Next for Pedersen and Stewart are preparations for their respective upcoming elections. For Pedersen, there is literally no time to waste: the 2019 federal election is set by legislation for Oct. 21 and an election call was expected any day.
For Pedersen, this is her first election as a candidate. She described herself as “green as grass on campaigning.”
Pedersen said to reporters she expects the campaign “will be a fast learning curve and I hope to have a good team behind me ready to go.”
As for Stewart, her nomination is in place more than a year ahead of the expected provincial election, set for Oct. 26, 2020. Stewart also still doesn’t know who her opponents will be, as Sask Party incumbent MLA Herb Cox is not seeking re-election.
For her part, Stewart was “excited to make everything official so that we can build our team and look at what’s going to work in the Battlefords, what do we need to do, how do we get people engaged,” she said.
“I want people to be engaged and be excited, and use their voice. We are lucky enough to live somewhere that we can use that voice, so I want people to use it.”
Provincial NDP leader Ryan Meili spoke at the nomination meeting; he said he first met Amber through her work with the sexual assault centre. He told reporters he looked forward to working with Stewart, saying she is “super connected and cares deeply about the future of North Battleford.”
In remarks to the audience, Meili described Pedersen as “way ahead of her time for long term thinking.”
The NDP joint nomination meeting was held at Western Development Museum Saturday night, in conjunction with NDP provincial council held there the same weekend. The provincial council meetings included representatives from all 61 provincial constituency associations.
Meili also told reporters that the provincial NDP caucus held their annual retreat at Jackfish Lake earlier in the week, as they prepared for the resumption of the legislature in the fall.
The fact that the provincial and federal NDP in the Battlefords and Battlefords-Lloydminster, respectively, were nominating candidates under one roof has drawn the ire of the Sask Party in recent days.
On their Facebook page and Twitter feed, the Sask Party accused the provincial NDP of being in complete lockstep with federal NDP policies towards Saskatchewan.
“At least Rachel Notley & the Alberta NDP tried to distance themselves from the federal NDP & its anti-pipeline, pro-carbon tax agenda,” the post stated.
“The Saskatchewan NDP, on the other hand, is completely supporting the federal NDP and its attacks on Saskatchewan.”
Meili made it known to reporters he was unimpressed by the Sask Party’s social media posts, characterizing them as “pot calling the kettle black”.
“Scott Moe, a card-carrying member of the Conservative Party, has spent the last couple of years being an attack dog for Andrew Scheer against Justin Trudeau. It’s really ironic of him to try and say those sorts of things.”
Meili did acknowledge there was a “deep connection between the federal and provincial New Democrats, we're both social democratic parties.” The main difference, he said, was the federal NDP was standing up for the country as a whole, while the Saskatchewan NDP was standing up for the needs of the province.
“At the heart is a common belief in putting people first and understanding that we all do better when we remember we are all in this together.”
Meili expressed confidence in where the provincial NDP stood from an organizational standpoint going into 2020. With Stewart’s nomination there are 22 candidates officially nominated by the NDP to run provincially. Meili said the party also has had more contested nominations already than the last election.
Meili expressed his belief the Battlefords was a riding ready to move the NDP’s direction at the provincial level.
“The local economy has struggled, increasing crime, troubles in education. There’s lots for people to be frustrated with and I think with Amber and the plan that we’re ... putting forward as New Democrats, there is a lot for them to be drawn towards, as a change.”