The overwhelming win by the Saskatchewan Party in the recent provincial election—and the devastating NDP loss—has received considerable attention in the mainstream media. But an important part of the election story is being largely ignored. The recently created Buffalo Party received the third largest tally of votes province-wide despite running candidates in only 17 of the 61 constituencies.
The Green Party had candidates in almost every riding—60 altogether. But despite mainstream media sympathy for the Greens’ progressive policies, those 60 candidates combined received only 9,108 votes or 2.37 percent of the total cast (as of October 27—there are still some mail ballots to be counted). The Progressive Conservative Party ran 31 candidates and received only 7,987 votes, or 2.08 percent of the total.
In contrast, the Buffalo Party’s 17 candidates garnered 11,055 votes or 2.88 percent of the provincial total. For a party that’s only a few months old, that’s a tremendous showing. Furthermore, Buffalo Party candidates came second in four constituencies, making it the only third party with candidates placing second. In Estevan, the Buffalo candidate received over 25 percent of the votes.
These are strong numbers for a fledgling party. Even the Reform Party of Canada failed to win any seats in its first electoral contest in 1988, but it later went on to dominate federal politics in the West.
The Buffalo Party’s strong showing is even more significant given the many obstacles thrown in its path. For one, the Saskatchewan Party and the NDP had worked together to change the registration process for new political parties, making it harder for new parties to compete in provincial elections. Despite this hindrance, hard-working Saskatchewan patriots managed to fulfill the requirements for the Buffalo Party’s registration only about 7 months before the election. In comparison, the other parties had years to prepare for it.
Among the biggest challenges for a brand new party is to inform people about its existence and what it stands for. But the mainstream media had little interest in covering the Buffalo Party, and social media suppression added to the lack of information available to voters. The COVID-19 pandemic created even further restrictions on the Buffalo Party’s ability to get its message out.
Placing third with both hands tied behind its back indicates that the Buffalo Party has a message that Saskatchewan people will support. The work has only just begun, and the party will be able to build on this early strength to ensure that Justin Trudeau will not be able to sleep well the next time Saskatchewan voters go to the polls.
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