Saskatchewan New Democratic Party

The Saskatchewan New Democratic Party (NDP) is a social-democratic[4][5] political party in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. It currently forms the official opposition, but has been a dominant force in Saskatchewan politics since the 1940s. The party is the successor to the Saskatchewan section of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF), and is affiliated with the federal New Democratic Party.

Saskatchewan New Democratic Party
LeaderCarla Beck
PresidentJudy Bradley
Founded1932 as the Farmer-Labour Group, became the Saskatchewan CCF in 1934, renamed CCF-NDP in 1961, renamed Saskatchewan NDP in 1967
Headquarters1122 Saskatchewan Drive
Regina, Saskatchewan
S4P 0C4
IdeologySocial democracy
Political positionCentre-left to left-wing[1][2][3]
National affiliationNew Democratic Party
SloganStronger. Together.
Seats in Legislature
12 / 61
Official website Edit this at Wikidata



"Towards the Dawn!" – 1930s promotional image for Saskatchewan's Co-operative Commonwealth Federation

The origins of the party began as early as 1902. In that year a group of farmers created the Territorial Grain Growers' Association. The objective of this group was to lobby for farmer's rights with the grain trade and the railways. The name was changed to the Saskatchewan Grain Growers' Association (SGGA) when Saskatchewan became a province in 1905.[6]

In 1921 a left-wing splinter group left the SGGA to form the Farmer's Union. However, the two groups reconciled in 1926 and reformed as the United Farmers of Canada (Saskatchewan Section) (UFC). The first leader of the UFC was George Williams.[7]

The Progressive Party of Saskatchewan, a farmers' movement, elected six MLAs in the 1921 provincial election as well as in the 1925 election and five in 1929 but were never able to field candidates in more than half a dozen of the province's 63 ridings. After the 1929 provincial election returned a Liberal minority government, the Progressives joined with the Conservatives to defeat the Liberals and form a coalition government dominated by the Tories. The Progressives disappeared over the course of the next four years and were largely absorbed by the Tories.

The rightward drift of the Progressives prompted the UFC-SS to decide, in 1930, to run its own candidates in the following election. In 1931, the UFC participated in the March on Regina to protest against government indifference to the farmer's plight during the depression. During that event the UFC met with the Independent Labour Party, led by M.J. Coldwell, to discuss their options. From that meeting they agreed to form the Farmer-Labour Group (FLG) with Coldwell as the leader.[8] The new party acquired its first member in the Saskatchewan legislature when Jacob Benson, elected as a Progressive in 1929, joined to become a Farmer-Labour MLA.[citation needed]

The FLG participated in the 1934 provincial election and won five seats and became the official opposition to the Liberals. Coldwell failed to win a seat but remained as leader.

Founding of the CCFEdit

Following the election, the Farmer-Labour Group officially became the Saskatchewan section of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF), although it had been known unofficially as the CCF's Saskatchewan wing before that.[8]

In 1935, Coldwell ran for federal office in the 1935 federal election and was elected. Williams took over as party leader.[8] Williams' radicalism caused moderates in the party to believe that the CCF could not form government with him as leader while his unwavering support for the war alienated pacifists, one of whom, Professor Carlyle King, unsuccessfully challenged Williams for the party presidency (but not the leadership) in 1940 gaining one third of the vote. Tommy Douglas, a charismatic federal CCF MP, was persuaded to challenge Williams for the leadership and succeeded in defeating him for the party presidency in 1941 and for the party leadership in 1942.[9][10]

CCF in provincial governmentEdit

In the 1944 election, the Saskatchewan CCF, led by Tommy Douglas, swept to power. They took 47 out of 52 seats to form the first socialist government in Canada or the United States.[11][12] In the process, they handed the Liberals the second-worst defeat that a sitting government has ever suffered in Saskatchewan. Since that election, the CCF/NDP has won 12 out of 19 elections and held power for 47 of 73 years (as of 2017).

Arguably, the party's greatest accomplishment was the introduction of North America's first comprehensive system of public medical insurance or Medicare. The fight to introduce Medicare in the province was intense, due to the opposition of the province's doctors who were backed by the American Medical Association. The AMA feared that public health care would spread to other parts of the continent if introduced in one part. In July 1962 the doctors staged the 23-day Saskatchewan doctors' strike. But despite a concerted attempt to defeat the controversial Medical Care Insurance Act, the strike eventually collapsed and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan agreed to the alterations and terms of the "Saskatoon Agreement". The program was introduced and became so popular it was soon adopted across Canada.

After doing much of the preliminary work on Medicare, Douglas resigned as party leader and Premier of Saskatchewan in 1961 to become the founding leader of the New Democratic Party (NDP). The NDP had been formed by a coalition of the CCF and the Canadian Labour Congress. In the same year, the party adopted the awkwardly naming of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, Saskatchewan Section of the New Democratic Party or NDP-CCF for short.[13] At the convention in November 1967, the current name was adopted after some heated discussions.[14]

The turmoil of the Medicare fight took its toll, however, and the NDP-CCF government of Douglas' successor Woodrow S. Lloyd was defeated by Ross Thatcher's Saskatchewan Liberal Party in the 1964 election.

Saskatchewan New Democratic PartyEdit

Dwain Lingenfelter, announcing his candidacy for the NDP leadership

The NDP rebuilt itself and went through a painful confrontation between a left-wing movement dubbed "The Waffle" (a name possibly derived from Toronto leftist economist James Laxer's quip that if he was perceived to be "waffling" on a policy question, then he'd "rather waffle to the left than waffle to the right") and the more centrist-oriented party establishment. The party returned to power in the 1971 election, under Allan Blakeney, embarking on a programme of nationalizing the province's natural resources. This saw the creation of parastatal or Crown corporations that drilled for oil (Saskatchewan Oil & Gas Corporation or SaskOil), mined potash (the Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan) and sought hard-rock minerals (the Saskatchewan Mining Development Corp.).[15] Blakeney's government was heavily defeated in the 1982 election by the Progressive Conservative Party of Saskatchewan, led by Grant Devine. The NDP was cut down to only nine seats, the worst defeat a sitting CCF/NDP government had suffered in Saskatchewan.

Despite the size of the defeat, Blakeney continued to lead the NDP in opposition. In the 1986 election, the NDP not only regained much of what it had lost four years earlier, but actually won the popular vote. However, much of the NDP's margin was wasted on large margins in Regina and Saskatoon; while the party won eight seats each in the province's two largest cities, it only won nine seats in the rest of the province. This left the NDP eight seats short of making Blakeney premier again. In a sense, this marked a turning point for a party that had begun as a voice for rural discontent.

Blakeney resigned in early 1987 and was succeeded by Roy Romanow, who led the party back to power in 1991. The Romanow government was more fiscally conservative than previous CCF/NDP governments, and instituted a program of hospital closures, program cuts, and privatizations to eliminate the budget deficit and reduce debt inherited from previous governments. Romanow later quipped that he was a supporter of Tony Blair's Third Way concept before it even existed, and there were many who doubted the party's continued commitment to social democracy. The NDP's Third Way alienated some of its left-wing members, who left the party and merged with the Green Party supporters to form the New Green Alliance.

Recent historyEdit

In the 1999 provincial election, Romanow's NDP received slightly less popular support as a share of the vote than the conservative opposition Saskatchewan Party led by Elwin Hermanson, a former Reform Party of Canada MP. Romanow and his government formed a coalition government with the three elected Liberal MLAs; one, Jack Hillson, subsequently left cabinet to sit as an independent Liberal in opposition. Jim Melenchuk and Ron Osika remained in the coalition and ran under the NDP banner in the 2003 provincial election, where both were defeated.

Romanow retired in 2001 and was succeeded by Lorne Calvert, who led the party into the 2003 general election. In an upset, the NDP not only retained power, but was able to form a government on its own with a majority in the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan of two seats (30–28).[16] However, in what proved to be a harbinger of things to come, all of the NDP's federal MPs from Saskatchewan lost their seats in the 2004 federal election. They had been steadily losing support at the federal level since 1993, when much of their rural support bled to the Reform Party. The federal NDP did not win any federal seats in the province again until 2015, when the 2012 federal electoral redistribution allowed them to pick up three seats.

The party's tenure in office ended with the 2007 general election, when the Saskatchewan Party under leader Brad Wall won 38 of the 58 seats.[17] Reduced to official opposition leader, Calvert said he had no immediate plans to step down as NDP leader, but would likely not lead the party into the next election.[18]

In 2008, Calvert announced his intention to leave the leadership of the Saskatchewan NDP and a leadership race commenced with declared candidates including Moose Jaw MLA Deb Higgins, former Deputy Premier and farmer, Dwain Lingenfelter, doctor and community activist Ryan Meili and former party President and Regina lawyer, Yens Pedersen. Lingenfelter was elected party leader June 6, 2009.

The 2011 election proved a heavy blow for the party. The Saskatchewan Party consolidated its grip on power, winning the third-largest majority government in the province's history. Lingenfelter lost his own seat, thus becoming the first CCF/NDP leader in 60 years to have not served as premier. The NDP was reduced to nine seats, its worst showing in 30 years. With deputy leader Higgins having lost her seat as well, John Nilson was named interim leader.[19] A permanent leader was chosen on March 9, 2013; with Nilson bowing out of the race;[20] second-term MLA Cam Broten was elected the party's new leader.[21]

After the 2016 election, the Saskatchewan NDP only captured one additional seat from the previous election, giving them ten seats opposed to the nine the party won in 2011. The disappointing election results as well as Cam Broten's loss in Saskatoon Westview resulted in his resignation as leader on April 11, 2016. On April 15, 2016, Trent Wotherspoon was chosen by the NDP caucus to be the leader of the Official Opposition for the 28th Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly, and was later elected as the party's interim leader on April 23, 2016.[22] On June 20, 2017, Wotherspoon stepped down as interim leader to enter the leadership election, and was succeeded by Nicole Sarauer who held both roles (Opposition leader and interim party leader) until March 3, 2018, when Ryan Meili, MLA for Saskatoon Meewasin and runner-up in the 2009 and 2013 leadership elections, was elected leader over Wotherspoon with 55% of the vote. Meili, a Saskatoon family doctor, had been elected MLA in a by-election one year and one day before being elected leader.

At the 2020 provincial election, the Saskatchewan Party was re-elected to its fourth consecutive majority government. The NDP won three additional seats in Saskatoon and Regina and once again formed the Official Opposition. Ryan Meili was re-elected in his district of Saskatoon Meewasin, becoming the first leader to retain his seat since former Premier Lorne Calvert in 2007.

In February 2022, Ryan Meili resigned as party leader. A leadership election was held on June 26 in Regina pitting Carla Beck against Kaitlyn Harvey. Beck was elected as the first female leader of the party at this convention.[23] The party is said to face a challenging general election as membership decreased markedly from the previous leadership convention. The 2018 Saskatchewan New Democratic Party leadership election revealed that there were 13,414 party members, with 10,837 members voting. The most recent convention revealed that there were 7,294 party members, with 4,741 members voting.[24] Party membership decreased by over 6,000, with less total votes cast in 2022 than were cast in 2018 for the second place candidate.[24]

Party leadersEdit

† denotes acting or interim leader

Bold denotes position as Premier


# Party Leader Highest Position Tenure Notes
1 Major James Coldwell Party Leader July 27, 1932 – July 17, 1936
2 George Hara Williams Leader of the Opposition July 17, 1936 – February 12, 1941 Acting leader 1934–1936
John Brockelbank Leader of the Opposition February 12, 1941 – July 17, 1942 Leader in the legislature 1942–1944
3 Tommy Douglas Premier July 17, 1942 – November 3, 1961 First social democratic Premier in North America
4 Woodrow Lloyd Premier November 3, 1961 – July 4, 1970 Leader of the CCF from 1961 to 1967


# Party Leader Highest Position Tenure Notes
1 Woodrow Lloyd Premier November 3, 1961 – July 4, 1970 Leader of the NDP 1967–1970
2 Allan Blakeney Premier July 4, 1970 – November 7, 1987
3 Roy Romanow Premier November 7, 1987 – January 27, 2001
4 Lorne Calvert Premier January 27, 2001 – June 6, 2009
5 Dwain Lingenfelter Leader of the Opposition June 6, 2009 – November 19, 2011
John Nilson Leader of the Opposition November 19, 2011 – March 9, 2013
6 Cam Broten Leader of the Opposition March 9, 2013 – April 23, 2016
Trent Wotherspoon Leader of the Opposition April 12, 2016 – June 20, 2017 Resigned in order to pursue the leadership
Nicole Sarauer Leader of the Opposition June 20, 2017 – March 3, 2018
7 Ryan Meili Leader of the Opposition March 3, 2018 – June 26, 2022
8 Carla Beck Leader of the Opposition June 26, 2022 – present First elected female leader of the Saskatchewan NDP.

Election resultsEdit

(Results shown are for Farmer-Labour Group in 1934, CCF from 1938 to 1960, CCF-NDP in 1964, NDP since 1967.)

Election Leader Seats Change Place Votes % Position
1934 Major James Coldwell
5 / 55
  5   2nd 102 944 24.0 Official Opposition
1938 George Hara Williams
10 / 52
  5   2nd 82 529 18.7 Official Opposition
1944 Tommy Douglas
47 / 52
  37   1st 211 364 53.1 Majority government
31 / 52
  16   1st 236 900 47.6 Majority government
42 / 53
  11   1st 291 705 54.1 Majority government
36 / 53
  6   1st 249 634 45.3 Majority government
37 / 54
  1   1st 276 846 40.8 Majority government
1964 Woodrow Lloyd
26 / 59
  11   2nd 268 742 40.3 Official Opposition
24 / 59
  2   2nd 188 653 44.3 Official Opposition
1971 Allan Blakeney
45 / 60
  21   1st 248 978 55.0 Majority government
39 / 61
  6   1st 180 700 40.1 Majority government
44 / 61
  5   1st 228 791 48.1 Majority government
9 / 64
  35   2nd 201 390 37.6 Official Opposition
25 / 64
  16   2nd 247 683 45.2 Official Opposition
1991 Roy Romanow
55 / 66
  30   1st 275 780 51.0 Majority government
42 / 58
  13   1st 193 053 47.2 Majority government
29 / 58
  13   1st 157 046 38.7 Minority government
2003 Lorne Calvert
30 / 58
  1   1st 190 923 44.6 Majority government
20 / 58
  10   2nd 168 704 37.2 Official Opposition
2011 Dwain Lingenfelter
9 / 58
  11   2nd 128 673 32.0 Official Opposition
2016 Cam Broten
10 / 61
  1   2nd 129 528 30.4 Official Opposition
2020 Ryan Meili
13 / 61
  3   2nd 140,584 31.6 Official Opposition

Current Saskatchewan New Democrat MLAsEdit

Member District Elected Notes
Carla Beck Regina Lakeview 2016 Leader of the Official Opposition 2022–present
Jennifer Bowes Saskatoon University 2020
Meara Conway Regina Elphinstone-Centre 2020
Matt Love Saskatoon Eastview 2020
Vicki Mowat Saskatoon Fairview 2017
Betty Nippi-Albright Saskatoon Centre 2020
Erika Ritchie Saskatoon Nutana 2020
Nicole Sarauer Regina Douglas Park 2016 Interim Leader of the Official Opposition, 2017–2018
Nathaniel Teed Saskatoon Meewasin 2022 First openly gay MLA in Saskatchewan's history
Doyle Vermette Cumberland 2008
Trent Wotherspoon Regina Rosemont 2007 Interim Leader of the Official Opposition, 2016–2017
Aleana Young Regina University 2020


Saskatchewan Young New Democrats (SYND)Edit

The Saskatchewan Young New Democrats (SYND) is the official youth wing of the Saskatchewan NDP. All party members from the ages of 13 to 25 are automatically recognized as a member of the Saskatchewan Young New Democrats.[25] The elected executive and general members meet on a regular basis and work to establish social change.[26] They also have an annual convention during which they elect the executive members and discuss policies relating to their concerns.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Stories of the year: Divides between and among political parties widen in Sask. During 2022".
  2. ^ "Phil Tank: A year after Meili quit, Sask. NDP still seeking traction".
  3. ^ "Politics in Saskatchewan".
  4. ^ Hunter & Miazdyck 2006, p. 396.
  5. ^ Praud & McQuarrie 2001, p. 166.
  6. ^ Taylor 1991, p. 117.
  7. ^ Taylor 1991, p. 118.
  8. ^ a b c Taylor 1991, p. 119.
  9. ^ Quiring, Brett, "Douglas, Thomas Clement (1904–86)", Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan, accessed February 12, 2008
  10. ^ Taylor 1991, p. 121.
  11. ^ "Tenth Provincial General Election (June 15, 1944)". Elections Saskatchewan.
  12. ^ "Tommy Douglas".
  13. ^ "CCF linked to "New Party" under proposed changes"". Star-Phoenix. November 1, 1961. p. 3. Retrieved October 2, 2022 – via
  14. ^ "Lloyd given solid backing". Regina Leader-Post. November 27, 1967. p. 24. Retrieved October 2, 2022 – via
  15. ^ Harding 1995, p. 341.
  16. ^ "2003 Saskatchewan General Election". Mapleleafweb.
  17. ^ "Saskatchewan Party wins majority government". CBC News. 7 November 2007.
  18. ^ "Victory and defeat". The Leader-Post. 8 November 2007. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016.
  19. ^ "John Nilson, veteran MLA, chosen interim Sask. NDP leader". CBC News. 19 November 2011.
  20. ^ "Saskatchewan NDP to choose new leader in a year". The Canadian Press via CTV News. 11 March 2012.
  21. ^ "Saskatchewan NDP chooses MLA Cam Broten to lead party". The Globe and Mail. 9 March 2013.
  22. ^ "Wotherspoon named interim NDP leader". The StarPhoenix. 23 April 2016.
  23. ^ "Sask. NDP elects Carla Beck as new leader". Regina. 2022-06-26. Retrieved 2022-06-26.
  24. ^ a b Hunter, Adam (June 29, 2022). "Sask. NDP faces 'huge' challenge to win over voters by 2024, prof says". CBC News. Retrieved June 29, 2022.
  25. ^ "Saskatchewan Young New Democrats". Saskatchewan NDP. Retrieved 2022-10-27.
  26. ^ "Saskatchewan Young New Democrats". Saskatchewan NDP. Retrieved 2022-10-28.


External linksEdit