REGINA — On a typical weekend morning, far from the marble halls of the Saskatchewan legislature, Cam Broten can be found making pancakes and waffles.
The NDP leader isn't schmoozing at a political breakfast, but wooing perhaps his biggest supporters: his three daughters — all under the age of five — and wife Ruth Eliason.
"Sometimes the girls request both pancakes and waffles and when they request waffles I just basically say, 'That's Dad's thing,''' laughs Eliason. "I'm not really very good at making waffles. He kind of has a soft spot for his girls and so if they want to do a special breakfast, he's game.''
Broten says the girls will load pancakes on a tray and take them upstairs to Eliason and they all eat breakfast together on the bed. Syrup and jam gets everywhere.
"It's a fun routine that we have and so I'm sort of known as the guy who makes pancakes and waffles in the household.''
Out with my favourite valentines on a beautiful day. pic.twitter.com/HOhmPCVKSh— Cam Broten (@cambroten) February 14, 2016
Broten, 37, was born in Regina and spent his early years in La Loche, Green Lake, Meadow Lake and La Ronge before his family settled in Saskatoon, where his family lives now.
He has an international studies degree from the University of Saskatchewan and a master's degree in political science at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia.
Eliason met Broten at university in Saskatoon and they married in 2004.
She says Broten brings out a sense of humour and silliness in their daughters. He also likes to teach them things and was excited to take them cross-country skiing for the first time this year.
"The girls said he makes a way better pizza than I do and, again, I'm happy to concede that title of best pizza-maker to him because, you know, he gets to make supper and I get to enjoy it.''
"It's a win-win for everybody.''
Aside from the three girls, the couple also had a son named Magnus. He was born prematurely in April 2009 and died the same day. They are expecting another child late this summer.
"It can be a little crazy sometimes, but I mean families are busy period,'' says Broten.
"Maybe it's a bit more complicated when I'm gone a heck of a lot of the time, on the road or away, but we juggle. We make things work.''
This young volunteer & I were debating what colour to use for a sign she was making. We decided to go with orange :) pic.twitter.com/faqrXAZg4C— Cam Broten (@cambroten) March 9, 2016
Broten worked as a health policy manager for the Saskatchewan Medical Association before running for office.
He was first elected in 2007 when the governing NDP was defeated by the Saskatchewan Party. He was one of nine New Democrats elected in 2011 as the Saskatchewan Party cruised to its second majority.
The NDP needed to rebuild and Broten threw his hat in the ring for the top job. He won the leadership in March 2013.
Inspired by his grandfather, a former MLA
He says he was influenced and inspired by his grandfather, Hans Broten, who was a member of the legislature under premiers Tommy Douglas and Woodrow Lloyd.
"I grew up really close to him,'' says Broten.
"We would see them often and we would be at our family's cabin in the summer together a lot. He definitely made a real mark on me through my childhood.''
A picture of Broten's grandpa hangs on the wall in his office at the legislature "as a reminder of who he was and what he represented.''
"I hope he'd be proud and I think he'd be excited.''
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