Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Leadership 2018: The Endorsement

The ongoing Saskatchewan NDP leadership campaign isn't the first time I've chosen between the two candidates. And it likely won't come as much surprise that there's little change in either my overall assessment of both candidates as eminently qualified and suited for a leadership role, or my ultimate choice between them.

But it's worth noting what's changed since the 2013 leadership campaign - and how it leads to my renewed endorsement of Ryan Meili for the NDP's leadership.

The most obvious imminent role of the NDP's next leader will be to serve as leader of the opposition. And while Wotherspoon's tenure as interim leader may give him some advantage in public awareness, either will still need to reach a large number of voters who lack familiarity with both current party leaders.

Each brings some distinct skills to the task of building a contrast against Scott Moe, with Meili's storytelling holding at least as much prospect of winning over voters as Wotherspoon's camera-friendly persona. And while Wotherspoon's stronger support among the current core of the party can't be entirely overlooked, nor can Meili's reach beyond the existing party apparatus.

I also wouldn't foresee either candidate having any trouble uniting the NDP alongside existing and new allies in the lead up to the 2020 election. And that brings us to the question of what might happen afterward.

In the longer term, the more important question for members to consider is what each candidate would figure to do if given the chance to govern. (Of course, that factor is also highly relevant to the goal of winning an election to the extent a vision resonates - or fails to resonate - with voters.)

This leadership campaign has seen Meili develop an appealing mix of both specific proposals and general principles for a future NDP government. And that makes it easy to envision what would change for the better under a Meili government - not only in terms of reversing the Saskatchewan Party's damage, but in the "what" and "how" involved in building the province I'd like to see.

Wotherspoon largely held his own on the policy front at the beginning of the campaign, emphasizing mental health and fixed-price child care as important signature proposals. But his policy offerings essentially ground to a halt midway through the campaign, while offering less detail than Meili's from the outset. And that makes for a particularly significant omission for a candidate who's also prone to speaking in terms of generalities rather than clear principles.

As a result, a comparison of positive campaigns has strengthened my take that Meili is more likely both to choose the right priorities in government if given the opportunity, and to better manage the unforeseen as it arises.

In sum, rather than deciding based on a count of reasons, I'll stick with one overarching consideration: Ryan Meili offers the best-case scenario for progress as Saskatchewan's next premier. And hopefully we'll get the chance to build toward that outcome in the provincial election ahead.


  1. Nicely stated.
    And whether it's one good reason or one hundred, it all adds up to Ryan Meili being the best hope for a healthy society in Saskatchewan.

  2. Fingers crossed. I know my Saskatoon family members are voting for Ryan Meili!