POLITICS

NDP's Lingenfelter Resigns After Losing Seat

11/08/2011 10:57 EST | Updated 01/08/2012 05:12 EST
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New Democratic Party Leader Dwain Lingenfelter has resigned after losing his Regina Douglas Park constituency.

It's the first time an NDP leader has lost his own seat in a general election and it came as the party suffered a crushing defeat in Regina, Saskatoon, Prince Albert and The Battlefords -- reduced to nine seats in its worst showing since 1982.

"I've tendered my resignation as of tonight," Lingenfelter told reporters in Regina on Monday night.

With all ballots counted, Saskatchewan Party candidate Russ Marchuk had about 52 per cent of the vote.

Lingenfelter, 62, won his seat in a byelection in 2009. He had lost before, but for decades he had mostly been a winner at the ballot box.

Douglas Park had been an NDP stronghold since 1986. Victor Lau, leader of the provincial Green Party, finished a distant third.

Seven other NDP incumbents were unseated by their Saskatchewan Party rivals in Monday's election:

Prince Albert Northcote - Darcy Furber.

Moose Jaw Wakamow - Deb Higgins.

Saskatoon Fairview - Andy Iwanchuk.

Saskatoon Eastview - Judy Junor.

Saskatoon Meewasin - Frank Quennell.

The Battlefords - Len Taylor.

Regina Dewdney - Kevin Yates.

Returned to province in 2009

Lingenfelter, a native of Shaunavon, Sask., had returned to the province from Calgary to win the NDP leadership contest in 2009, following that party's election loss to Brad Wall's Saskatchewan Party in 2007.

Prior to his nine-year stint with energy company Nexen Inc., Lingenfelter was a deputy premier and one of the most powerful cabinet ministers in Roy Romanow's government in the 1990s.

Leading up to this fall's election, newspaper public opinion polls suggested Lingenfelter's personal popularity lagged well behind Wall's, something the NDP leader said he planned to address.

Speaking in Regina after his loss, Lingenfelter said he has asked the NDP caucus to choose a new interim leader and for party officials to prepare for a leadership contest.

He told a crowd of supporters he takes responsibility for the loss, but said the party will recover.

"I am sorry, but we will do better," he said.

Lingenfelter said he would not apologize for talking about child-care and housing during the campaign.

"The platform we ran on was principled and progressive," he said.

Lingenfelter also said he spoke to Saskatchewan Party Leader Brad Wall and congratulated him on his win.

He noted that Wall is a "very, very popular leader" and gave him credit for moving the economy in the right direction.