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Saskatchewan NDP Leader Ryan Meili stands beside his wife Mahli Brindamour as he gives his concession speech at the party's election night headquarters, in Saskatoon, on Oct. 26, 2020. Meili currently trails Saskatchewan Party candidate Rylund Hunter by 83 votes in Saskatoon Meewasin, with more than 1,600 mail-in ballots still to be counted.

Kayle Neis/The Canadian Press

Saskatchewan NDP Leader Ryan Meili says he plans on returning to the legislature as an updated provincial election count shows him more than 200 votes ahead of his opponent.

The counting of more than 40,000 mail-in ballots began Wednesday, following Monday’s fourth-straight majority win by the Saskatchewan Party.

Election night polls closed showing Meili trailing Saskatchewan Party candidate Rylund Hunter by 83 votes in the race to keep his seat in Saskatoon Meewasin.

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The Elections Saskatchewan website says 1,065 mail-in ballots so far received and counted give Meili a 209-vote lead over Hunter.

But the agency says it may still get ballots in the mail – another 591 were issued in that constituency – and a final count will be held Nov. 7.

Meili says he believes he is the winner.

“I’m so honoured to be able to represent, continue to represent, the people of Saskatoon Meewasin,” he told a news conference in Saskatoon.

Based on ballots counted Monday night, the Saskatchewan Party under Premier Scott Moe was leading in 50 seats, while the Opposition NDP had 11.

That changed Wednesday to 49 seats for the Sask. Party and 12 for the NDP.

The NDP had hoped to avoid a repeat of the 2011 and 2016 elections, when its leaders lost their seats then resigned, triggering leadership contests. The party has been out of power since 2007.

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“It’s the first time in a while that we get to return our leader to the legislature,” said Meili.

Moe said he’d spoken to his candidates who are locked in tight races with the NDP in Regina, Saskatoon and Prince Albert.

The Elections Saskatchewan website shows that in Prince Albert Northcote, a tally of mail-in ballots has the Saskatchewan Party’s Alana Ross holding her win over NDP incumbent Nicole Rancourt.

Scott Moe led his Saskatchewan Party into rare territory Monday winning a fourth straight majority for the longest-serving government in the country. Moe said he would govern for all residents, including those who didn’t vote for him, to work to build a strong Saskatchewan for all. The Canadian Press

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