MARCH 14, 2013
On March 9, Cam Broten narrowly defeated Ryan Meili, winning the leadership of the Saskatchewan NDP. This is the first of two opinion pieces on this result and what direction the party should take with their new leader. Tomorrow we'll feature an article by Saskatchewan NDP member Jaime Garcia.
The snow has still to settle after Ryan Meili's 44 vote loss for the leadership of the Saskatchewan NDP on the weekend.
The win of Cam Broten indicates that NDP in Saskatchewan will take a middle of the road course in Saskatchewan, vying for the votes of the centre to somehow achieve power -- a sort of liberal NDP approach.
In doing this they will be missing the dynamic messaging and organizing that the Ryan Meili campaign embodied.
Erin Weir, who dropped out of the leadership race in favour of Ryan Meili, laid that direction out clearly in his nomination for Ryan Meili where he spoke of: taking on the giveaway royality rates; an accessible, affordable child care; a health care that is upstream; support for workers and unions; and challenging environmental destruction. And Weir's his list went on -- all of it a progressive approach for a New Saskatchewan, to build a healthy society and a healthy democracy.
And within all of this a momentum that engaged with communities north and south in Saskatchewan -- rural and urban, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal coming together. There was also a fantastic glue of young people participating in the political process -- representing politics and energy not really seen in the NDP since the early seventies when Don Mitchell ran as a Waffle candidate for the leadership of the NDP against Alan Blakeney and Roy Romanow.
Coming out of the convention there was much talk of all people coming together, showing a united front. However, united fronts only work if there is a basis of unity. When Nettie Wiebe ran a progressive campaign over ten years ago there was a similar message, but the Lorne Calvert led NDP government in subsequent years did little to pick up on the policy or energy that Nettie had represented.
Maybe this time around there are people around Cam Broten who can help him understand the basis of unity that has to be forged with the other half of the party. Only winning by 44 votes does mean that some negotiation is necessary if you want to make a vibrant party and movement that connects with people and a progressive direction.
It is there to be done for the Saskatchewan NDP. If not, the snow will keep falling.
Don Kossick is a long-time political activist in Saskatchewan and is the producer of Making the Links Radio.