Tuesday, March 05, 2013

#skndpldr Candidate Review - Erin Weir

Following up on yesterday's candidate review posts, let's move on to a look at Erin Weir's Saskatchewan NDP leadership campaign.

Weir's launch came at a time when it wasn't clear who (if anybody) would join Cam Broten and Trent Wotherspoon in the race. And under those circumstances, Weir looked well placed to serve as the outsider candidate.

But once Ryan Meili entered the fray and started to build his grassroots campaign, Weir was left with few options to carve out a distinct niche. And his resulting message track about the virtues of costing and planning didn't do much to overcome the perception of a somewhat aloof candidate - a factor which may only have helped Meili to sound inspirational in comparison.

As expected, though, Weir was extremely effective in both asking and answering questions during the leadership debates - and he put together enough fund-raising support and organization to keep himself in the mix with the other candidates. So if Weir didn't get enough of a foothold to emerge as a top contender in this year's campaign, he did position himself to be an important voice within the party for years to come.

While I'm still not sure that a focus on serving as the voice in response to every available economic story made for a particularly compelling case for a potential leader, it should rank near the top of the to-do list for an opposition party. And throughout the leadership campaign, Weir also offered the strongest opposition voice challenging the Saskatchewan Party's policies in substance.

Adding that track record to Weir's economic credentials and eye for policy detail, there shouldn't be much doubt that any new leader can put his talents to good use. In the short term, he'd be an ideal choice to take charge of the NDP's media and policy response operations. And Weir should be able to play a central role in assembling and costing the NDP's platform for elections to come.

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