The provincial election is coming fast, with the first advance polls opening next week, and two of the three candidates for Yorkton - Carter Antoine of the NDP and Greg Ottenbreit of the Saskatchewan Party - squared off at the Yorkton Chamber of Commerce’s All Candidates Forum. Judy Mergel of the Green Party was invited, but unable to attend.
Ottenbreit’s focus was on his government’s record since forming government in 2007, especially as compared to the previous NDP government’s record in the period leading up to it. Ottenbreit referred back to the government’s record, and his record in cabinet specifically, multiple times throughout the night.
Antoine was focused on his main issue, which was a ban on corporate and union donations to political parties. Antoine also objected to cuts in education and health, something which consistently elicited a response from Ottenbreit, who quickly demanded to know where the cuts were and would bring up numbers and figures to rebut Antoine's assertations.
At the end, Antoine said his main goal was to represent his main issues, and he reinforced that his main goal was to get a ban of corporate and union donations.
“When you follow the money, everything is too convenient and I am of the opinion that when we ban corporate and union donations and work to get the big money out of politics, we can truly begin to have a rejuvenated and trustful democracy once again.”
Ottenbreit admits he got heated when Antoine repeated NDP rhetoric about cuts, and taking slights at corporations in the province.
“That’s a bit hard to take, especially when you see local companies that work very hard and build these projects within the province.”
Ottenbreit said he was confident that they got their message across, and said that the question before voters this fall is who is the best choice to lead the province through the COVID-19 recovery.
“I think it’s pretty clear that Scott Moe and the Saskatchewan Party are the ones that are the growth party, and the NDP is the party of decline.”
Antoine is grateful for the opportunity to share his message, and thanked the Yorkton Chamber of Commerce for the ability to take part in the forum and he hopes his message resonated with voters.
“No matter what happens, I’m just happy I can be out here to advocate for the issues that I have been championing longer than I could drive. I am so thankful for the opportunity to be here today and I am able to spread the message to people across Yorkton and across the province.”
Both men came out with a positive opinion of each other. Antoine said that while you’re not supposed to necessarily like each other on the campaign trail, he found Ottenbreit to be a likeable opponent overall. On Antoine, Ottenbreit described him as a ‘great young fellow’ even if he was frustrated with his party’s talking points, and said that they might talk later and compare notes.
This forum was unique this year. In order to allow it to go ahead while still maintaining social distancing guidelines, there was very limited in-person attendance, with the majority of the audience being able to interact through email and Facebook Live. Juanita Polegi with the Yorkton Chamber of Commerce said that they’re grateful for the candidates for coming out and participating, and that people were still eager to ask questions and hear what the candidates had to say.
“People were engaged and interested in what was happening, so I think it was a success in that regard, and certainly the number of questions and the time that each candidate candidate was given, I think people got an opportunity to understand where each candidate was coming from and their party’s stances on a variety of issues.”
While Polegi said that they hope the next election they can have a full room of citizens asking questions, they are pleased with how the online elements worked and how they can be made a part of Chamber events going forward.
The forum is still available on the Yorkton Chamber of Commerce’s Facebook page.
Watch yorktonthisweek.com for the questions we have asked the candidates.