09/05/2012 05:49 EDT | Updated 11/05/2012 05:12 EST

Saskatoon MLA first to throw hat in race to become leader of provincial NDP

SASKATOON - A Saskatoon MLA is the first to throw his hat into the ring for the leadership of the provincial NDP party.

Cam Broten told reporters that he wants to rebuild the party.

“Our party has an incredible legacy and I firmly believe that we have much to contribute to Saskatchewan’s future,” Broten said Wednesday at his campaign office in Saskatoon.

“I’m seeking the leadership because I want to restore strength to our party and make us a vibrant political force that appeals to Saskatchewan people and earns their trust.”

Broten said his plan includes electing more women and people from diverse backgrounds, restoring the party's rural roots, and modernizing the party's policy development process.

While the Saskatchewan Party holds most of the seats in rural areas, Broten says he will try to convince voters to take another look at the NDP.

"I think the first step is recognizing that we have a lot of work to do and then making a sincere effort to engage with individuals.

"I ask individuals to take a look at what we're talking about, what is our plan for stronger communities through things like energy production, through initiatives around agriculture."

Broten was first elected in November 2007 as the MLA for Saskatoon Massey Place and was re-elected in 2011.

He was born in Regina and raised in La Loche, Green Lake, Meadow Lake, La Ronge and Saskatoon.

He earned a bachelor's degree in international studies at the University of Saskatchewan and a master's degree in political science at Simon Fraser University.

He worked as a policy analyst with the provincial government and a health policy manager with the Saskatchewan Medical Association. He was also an elected board member with the Saskatoon Co-op. He and his wife Ruth have two daughters, Ingrid and Clara.

"I have a young family and not unlike many other young families in the province, so I know what the issues are that young families face. So I think my approach is one of being practical, of being balanced and bringing good thinking to the project."

The party's former leader, Dwain Lingenfelter, lost his seat in the last provincial election. Since then, John Nielson has been the NDP's interim leader and he has said he will not seek the top job.

Regina MLA Trent Wotherspoon and economist Erin Weir say they are thinking about running for the leadership. Weir has a news conference set for Friday in Regina to announce his intentions.

The NDP plans to hold 14 debates across the province before ballots are cast for the next leader on March 9.

(CKOM, CJWW, The Canadian Press)