Harrison wins second term in Sask Party sweep

Jeremy Harrison (right) of the Saskatchewan Party accepts congratulations from NDP candidate Helen Ben following Monday's provincial election. Harrison won handily, defeating Ben by more than 1,600 votes.

By Rhonda Cooper and Mac Christie

Meadow Lake incumbent Jeremy Harrison was re-elected last night as part of a province-wide sweep for the Saskatchewan Party that saw them win 49 of 58 seats.

Harrison won handily by more than 1,600 votes, something he found surprising after the constituency was decided by only 36 votes in 2007.

“I really did expect this to be a very, very close outcome and we worked that way the whole way through,” he said. “We didn’t at any point take for granted that we were going to be victorious here.”

This was the 33-year-old Harrison’s fourth election campaign, but the first time he’d been re-elected. In the 2006 federal election he lost his other bid for re-election to Liberal Gary Merasty.

“I’ve never actually been re-elected before,” he noted. “So this is a very, very humbling experience and I have a great amount of gratitude for the people of this constituency.”

He admitted to being nervous on election day, despite the high polling numbers for the party province-wide.

“It’s always nerve-wracking,” he said. “Anything can happen in an election.”

The win was a historic one for the Saskatchewan Party, securing 64 per cent of the popular vote. Previously no party had ever topped 57 per cent.

Harrison attributed the party’s success partly to the popularity of Brad Wall, but also to hard work, particularly in the Meadow Lake area.

“We’ve worked hard at this for the past decade,” he said. “Most of the doors in this community I’ve probably knocked on six or seven times in the last six or seven years.

“I think it also speaks to the fact that party’s done a good job.”

New Democrat candidate Helen Ben was gracious in defeat. Although not particularly surprised by the outcome, she expected to have done better overall.

“It’s hard to say what happened,” she said. “I think some of it was low voter turnout. But these things happen and it is time to assess and rebuild the party.”

Ben spent the day in her home community of Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation before travelling to Meadow Lake to meet with her supporters.

“I appreciate all their hard work and I am humbled by their support and belief in me,” she said.

Although she was unsuccessful in securing the riding for her party, Ben believes she and her team have opened up the eyes of quite a number of individuals about the issues in the area. Plus, the involvement of youth in her campaign will allow the party to rebuild.

“Collectively we can be strong,” she said. “There are people who want to see change. It’s not a loss, it’s an opportunity for us to build.”

Jeremy Harrison (right) of the Saskatchewan Party accepts congratulations from NDP candidate Helen Ben following Monday's provincial election. Harrison won handily, defeating Ben by more than 1,600 votes.

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