Newspaper article The Canadian Press

New Democrat MPs Return to Saskatchewan Roots to Plot Parliamentary Strategy

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

New Democrat MPs Return to Saskatchewan Roots to Plot Parliamentary Strategy

Article excerpt

NDP MPs return to Saskatchewan roots

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OTTAWA - New Democrat MPs are returning to their roots -- literally.

They've chosen Saskatchewan -- which gave birth to the party 52 years ago, and may yet hold the key to their hopes of forming government in two years -- for their annual summer caucus retreat.

The two-day gathering in Saskatoon, which starts Tuesday, is ostensibly aimed at plotting strategy for the fall session of Parliament.

But it's equally about setting the stage for the 2015 election, in which Saskatchewan holds the promise of as many as five new seats for the NDP, thanks to a major redrawing of electoral boundaries in the province.

In the last four elections, with the province divvied up into 14 rural-urban hybrid ridings, the NDP won no seats despite winning a majority of the votes in urban areas; the Conservatives picked up 13, the Liberals one.

The NDP stands to make big gains under redistribution, which has created wholly urban ridings in Regina and Saskatoon.

"There's no question that for us the new math that's been put in is definitely going to play out differently," NDP Leader Tom Mulcair said in an interview.

"We will be winning seats, and quite a few of them, in Saskatchewan so it's important for us to show the flag, to be there."

The NDP vaulted into official Opposition status for the first time in its history in 2011, propelled by an orange wave that swept Quebec, a province in which the party had barely registered until then but which suddenly delivered 59 of its 75 seats.

"I like to joke in Quebec we had 59 new trees with no roots and in Saskatchewan we have our deepest roots but no more trees," said Mulcair. "We want to get back, to stay with the metaphor, to our roots."

Mulcair's challenge for 2015 is to hang on to the party's gains in Quebec while adding 69 seats elsewhere -- no easy task, especially with the resurgent Liberals, under newly minted Leader Justin Trudeau, eating into NDP support. …

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