Belanger’s dominance continues in Athabasca

By Mac Christie and Rhonda Cooper

Athabasca voters bucked the provincial trend and re-elected NDP MLA Buckley Belanger to the seat he has held since 1995.

Belanger defeated the Sask Party’s Bobby Woods by more than 800 votes, 1,867 to 1,021.

NDP MLA Buckley Belanger was re-elected for a fifth term in Monday's election.

In a sea of green covering the province, Belanger is one of only nine seats retained by the New Democratic Party.

“It’s a bittersweet moment,” he said as he reflected on his win late Monday night from Ile-a-la Crosse. “The polls weren’t that great for us but be assured the NDP will be back.”

It is a time of rebuilding for the New Democratic party after its historically low showing in Monday’s election.

“It’s the Sask Party’s time right now. The pendulum in politics always swings,” he added. “We will be busy rebuilding our team and getting a plan into place that people will like and relate to.”

Belanger believes the Sask Party’s forestry deal to supply millions of acres of trees from the North to mills was a key factor in his win.

Even NDP leader Dwain Lingenfelter lost his seat Monday night. While Belanger did not discount taking a run at the party’s leadership, he said he would take a few weeks to assess that possibility.

The returning incumbent dedicated his victory to his late friend Irene Peterson, to the Dene people, and to his grandparents Charles and Beatrice Belanger.

“I said if I won I would dedicate the victory to these three special groups of people.”

Saskatchewan Party candidate Bobby Woods said he didn’t expect to lose like he did.

“I’m a bit surprised at the outcome for sure,” he said. “I thought people should have read between the lines and saw that the Sask Party was going to come out on top in the province.”

He wished Belanger luck, noting there are very few MLAs on the NDP side of the table.

But despite the loss, Woods, the mayor of Buffalo Narrows, said he’s going to continue to work to make sure the views of his supporters are represented.

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