In October 1999 Prime Minister Chretien called a bye-election in Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar for November 15. The campaign was bruising one. A Reform Party entourage arrived at Dennis’s home and frightened his teen-aged daughters. NDP signs were defaced by having a hammer and sickle decal pasted on them. But the NDP won by 2,200 votes. Dennis made the following victory speech at the Union Centre in Saskatoon.
Friends, welcome to the new millennium. We are celebrating it a month and a half ahead of time.
A few days ago, I told a group of people who were going to be working on Election Day that my fate was in their hands. In fact, my fate has been in your hands since day one. It was a superbly organized campaign.
I could spend all night talking about everyone who helped, but let me just mention Dan Wirl, our campaign manager. He’s the best there is. Thank you Dan and thanks to the United Steelworkers of America for freeing you up to lead us.
Thank you to other sisters and brothers in the labour movement. I share with you a progressive project for society.
Thank you to former colleagues of mine from the NDP caucus and MP offices in Ottawa. A number of you took holidays to come out and volunteer in this campaign.
Thank you to NDP MPs who have been wonderfully supportive, and especially to Alexa McDonough, who came out no less than four times during this campaign. In fact, Dan Wirl was going to send out a search party for Alexa and my wife Martha when they did not get back to the committee rooms by about 10 o’clock one night. Somebody spotted them coming out of an apartment building where they had knocked every door at that late hour.
Thank you to provincial MLAs and members of their staff who set aside personal time to come out and help.
Thanks to our aboriginal friends, who lent an important hand in this campaign. I want you to know that I look forward especially to working with and for you.
Thanks especially to my family, to Martha my dear companion of 19 years, and to Maria and Anna, our wonderful, intelligent and loving daughters. Thanks to members of my extended family, and especially to members of Martha’s extended family, and it’s a big one.
I want to thank the other candidates in this election, most of who ran clean campaigns. I assure constituents in Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar that that I will work in the best interests of every person in this constituency.
Significance of our Win
The themes of our campaign were clear from day one. We are going to stand up for Saskatchewan people; for good health care; for farm families and rural communities; for safe and secure communities; and for fair taxes.
We said that the Liberals in Ottawa had turned their backs on Saskatchewan and that we would work hard to deliver a message – that Saskatchewan families deserve better.
We said that politics should not be used to divide people, but rather to bring them together.
We said, I said, that we would put the interests of people in this riding ahead of any other concerns. We promised these things and we are going to work on keeping those promises. Of course, I can’t do these things alone. I could not get elected without you, and I cannot serve without you.
All of this work begins tomorrow. But tonight let’s visit. Let’s form a warm circle and let’s celebrate what we have accomplished together.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.