Thursday, February 21, 2013

On effective departures

Obviously Erin Weir's decision to withdraw from the Saskatchewan NDP's leadership race and endorse Ryan Meili looks to be one of the most important developments of the campaign. While there's still a wide range of possible outcomes among the remaining candidates, the movement of any substantial portion of Weir's support should nearly ensure that Meili appears on the final ballot - and also figures to boost Meili's odds of reaching 50% support on an earlier ballot.

But beyond the effect of Weir's endorsement, I'll also point out the shared policy statement which accompanies his support - which both highlights the importance of Weir's being involved in the campaign all along, and finds middle ground in some areas where Weir and Meili have sparred over the course of the leadership debates.

Throughout the campaign to date, all three other candidates have declined to commit to Weir's platform on resource royalies (even while often speaking of them as valuable contributions to a broader review). But Meili has agreed not only to close the loopholes identified by Weir, but also to support an overall review to shape the NDP's platform for 2015 - effectively avoiding the "blank slate" issue that Weir has highlighted throughout the leadership campaign.

Weir's other areas of obvious influence haven't been discussed in as much detail by the other candidates. But the concept of incorporating a universal child care program into existing school facilities and the idea of creating a provincial benefit to offset any federal cuts to Old Age Security have both been regular themes for Weir - and they've now been endorsed by Meili as well.

All of which means that beyond his impressive contributions to the debates, Weir's influence on the leadership campaign now also includes a significant shift in its anticipated voting outcomes along with a direct role in shaping another round of policy choices. And we'll find out before long what effect those contributions have on the final results.

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