Thursday, October 11, 2012

Leadership 2013 Roundup

While all has been relatively quiet from two of Saskatchewan's NDP leadership camps, there's still been some activity worth highlighting over the last few days.

- First, Scott Stelmaschuk has made another massive contribution to coverage of the race with a thorough candidate questionnaire. And Erin Weir's response tells us somewhat more about the political legacy he hopes to build:
In 25 years, what do you hope your political legacy to be?

I hope that my political legacy will be Saskatchewan collecting a better return from our non-renewable resources and investing the proceeds in important public services, renewable power for a green economy, and a provincial savings fund for future generations.
- Meanwhile, Weir has also released a plan for Saskatchewan's potash royalty system, with a focus on eliminating loopholes and revenue leakage rather than reconsidering the underlying royalty rates. Which isn't to say we should rule out the possibility of doing both in the longer term - but looks like a valuable first step toward earning a fair return for our natural resources.

- Finally, Ryan Meili's latest blog post discusses his reason for retaining his beard. And while I'm still not a huge fan of spending time talking about appearances rather than policy and values, Meili's take does suggest some noteworthy development as a candidate since the 2009 campaign:
When I ran for leader in 2009, I caved and shaved, wanting to fit into the expected mold of political appearance. I didn’t see this as a big deal at the time, but the more I think about it, the more I find it strange to change our appearances drastically to fit a narrow set of imaginary criteria. Politicians are expected to be thin and attractive, to be well-heeled enough to dress impeccably and to betray no hint of an accent. And, more often than not, they are expected to be white, male, middle-aged and heterosexual.

Now I’m not suggesting for a moment that I’m a member of an excluded minority. Like the other declared candidates in this race, I am a majority-culture, straight male approaching middle age. A few whiskers does not by any means make me part of an equity-seeking group. But the early reaction, however minor, to my facial hair is interesting, and reflects the disproportionate role that appearance and demographics play in our judgment of candidates. This may just reinforce the factors that have led this race, and Saskatchewan politics in general, to have so little diversity in its political representatives.

For citizens, I think it raises another question. If we expect candidates to change who they are to fit a small set of cultural norms, are we selecting representatives for the exact opposite of the behaviour we desire? If we are asking potential politicians to bend themselves so far they’re unrecognizable, can we really be disappointed if they later turn out to be inconsistent and insincere?

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous8:51 p.m.

    Is David Forbes endorsing Meili?