Cam Broten steps down as Sask. NDP leader
SASKATOON -- Saskatchewan NDP Leader Cam Broten stepped down Monday after a crushing provincial election result that included losing his own seat.
Broten said the decision was "for the good" of the party and his family.
"This was not an easy decision. I love this province and its people. I love public service and I love this political party," Broten said at a park in Saskatoon.
Broten was first elected in 2007 when the governing NDP was defeated by the Saskatchewan Party. He was one of nine New Democrats elected in 2011 when the Saskatchewan Party cruised to its second majority.
The NDP needed to rebuild and looked to Broten to put a fresh face on the party. He won the leadership in March 2013.
In the legislature, Broten pushed for better seniors care, more efficient health care and improvements to education.
Broten, 37, said in an interview with The Canadian Press just before the election that he was influenced and inspired by his grandfather, Hans Broten, who was a member of the legislature under premiers Tommy Douglas and Woodrow Lloyd.
The recent campaign got off to a rocky start for the NDP. Three hopefuls were removed and one resigned over questionable social media posts. Broten replaced the party's campaign manager for not properly vetting candidates.
Political watchers said Broten faced a Herculean task to try to take down Premier Brad Wall, who consistently tops public popularity polls.
In the end, the NDP took 10 of 61 seats in the legislature in the April 4 vote. New Democrats held nine seats going into the election and had hoped for a good number more to show momentum in the party's rebuilding efforts.
Broten lost his Saskatoon Westview seat by 232 votes to a 35-year truck driver who lives in a village about half an hour from the constituency.
"I know we didn't get everything right. I take responsibility for that. And there are lessons to be learned," Broten said, as his wife, Ruth, stood nearby.
Saskatchewan NDP president Theresa Sabourin said in a statement that during his time as leader, Broten put forward a vision of Saskatchewan where everyone would benefit from the province's prosperity.
"His leadership will be missed," Sabourin wrote.
Premier Brad Wall was not available for interviews Monday, but posted a note about Broten's resignation on Facebook.
"I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Cam Broten for his public service and his significant contribution as an MLA and the Leader of the Her Majesty's Official Opposition," Wall wrote.
"I wish him the best in all of his future endeavours."
An interim leader is to be chosen at a meeting of the New Democratic caucus and the NDP provincial council on April 23. The council will determine the next steps for selecting a permanent leader.
Broten didn't want to wade into what qualities the next leader should have.
"You know everyone has a list of what they think are the best characteristics of a leader," he said.
"I did my best. I'm proud of the work I've done. I'm saddened by this loss and I wish I had been elected. I wish I was making a very different announcement today in the park.
"But the fact of the matter is, I didn't get enough votes to win my seat and that's the harsh reality of politics at times."
-- By Jennifer Graham in Regina