Anyone want a job?
Three years after beating out Trent Wotherspoon for the job, NDP Leader Ryan Meilli has stepped down from the position.
Meili’s resignation comes after the Saskatchewan Party took the northern riding of Athabasca in a shocking upset. The NDP have held the riding for almost 25 years, but on February 15, Jim Lemaigre, a former police officer, came from behind to take the position from incumbent Georgina Jolibois, the former mayor of La Loche. Lemaigre got 1146 votes to Jolibois’ 900.
The change in leadership has led to questions about the NDP’s internal operations. Critics suggest that issues within the foundation of the NDP have created a harmful environment that is more focused on electoral gains than principles. Deanna Ogle, one of the vice presidents of the Saskatchewan NDP took to Twitter to discuss how the NDP “undermined” Meili and failed to support his leadership. She highlighted that many caucus member are “maintaining power, rather than pulling it together.”
Ogle went on to say that the new leader of the NDP will have to address the “toxic and unwelcoming” party culture. She says that the NDP will begin gaining more support when they begin welcoming new ideas and different people into the caucus. Ogle announced at the end of the Twitter thread that she would be resigning from her executive position with the party.
Leader-Post columnist Murray Mandryk also commented on the sense of entitlement within the NDP caucus, saying it needs to change if they have any hopes of electoral gains. “If New Democrats are serious about ever governing this province again, some of them badly need to get over the notion they have a divine right to do so because of their moral or intellectual superiority,” wrote Mandryk. The NDP, which has long considered itself “Saskatchewan’s natural governing party,” has not governed Saskatchewan since 2007, when Lorne Calvert was defeated by the Saskatchewan Party under Brad Wall.
Saskatoon Centre MLA Betty Nippi-Albright has announced that she will not be running for a leadership position, despite being a spotlight candidate for the position. In an interview with Postmedia, Nippi-Albright said that despite her “ability to lead and to bring new people” she was not willing to enter the leadership position until racism is addressed in the chamber.
“Until we address racism and we make a priority of addressing racism legislatively, we are not going to get anywhere.” Nippi-Albright’s statement came after the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) announced their support for Nippi-Albright via Twitter. “Here is an opportunity for Saskatchewan to finally have a bold, charismatic, and strong Treaty First Nations Indigenous voice leading provincial politics,” wrote the FSIN. “Someone who will do the right things for the next generation. That leader is Betty Nippi-Albright.” Nippi-Albright will continue to be MLA for Saskatoon Centre.
Other high-profile Saskatchewan politicians like Trent Wortherspoon, Regina Rosemont MLA, and Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark have announced that they will not be running for the position. Candidates that have not yet been ruled out are Carla Beck, MLA for Regina Lakeview, and Aleana Young, MLA for Regina University. Young visited the University of Regina a few weeks ago to speak at the ‘Freeze the Fees’ international student tuition rally where she encouraged students to campaign at the governmental level.
Meili has been the official Opposition leader since elected in 2018. He was first elected as the Saskatoon Meewasin MLA in 2017, and was then later re-elected in 2020. In his spare time, he is a physician who has been vocal about keeping COVID-19 restrictions in place.