The two candidates vying for the leadership of the Saskatchewan NDP squared off in their first official forum Thursday at the Timothy Eaton Centre right here in Moose Jaw. 

Carla Beck and Kaitlyn Harvey are running for the leadership that is being vacated by Ryan Meili. 

The forum was moderated by local teacher Doug Panko and it touched on several topics including affordability, seniors, healthcare, jobs, economy, education, truth and reconciliation, rural life, climate and the energy sector. 

Along with prepared questions, the candidates also took questions from the audience. 

Beck focused on her experience. She has been the MLA for Regina Lakeview since 2016. She feels that it hasn’t been a lack of policies by the NDP, but the fact that it needs to build a party that can win again. 

“Every day, and it's not an exaggeration, people are coming up to us and telling us that they want change. They want to see us as a viable political party that can win and deliver that change that people are looking for, positive change,” Beck said. 

Harvey, a Metis lawyer from Saskatoon, focused mainly on green initiatives and transferring away from fossil fuels and Indigenous issues. 

"People aren't stupid. Saskatchewan people aren't stupid. We know that our communities are not in a good place. We have a lot of issues that we need to be dealing with,” Harvey said. 

A number of dignitaries were on hand for the forum including former Moose Jaw MLAs Deb Higgins and Glenn Hagel, as well as former Premier Lorne Calvert. 

Calvert said he was excited by what he heard from the candidates Thursday night after the forum and the fact that history will be made as the NDP will have its first-ever woman leader. 

“With work, with creative policy, with a good sensitivity to the needs and the wants and the desire for a great future of the people of Saskatchewan, we have every opportunity to have seen tonight the next Premier of Saskatchewan and who will be the first woman to hold that office,” Calvert said. 

The Saskatchewan NDP are seeking a new leader after Ryan Meili announced that he was stepping down.

You can watch the NDP leadership forum below: