Still 'room for growth' after 72% vote of confidence, says Sask. NDP leader

·3 min read
Official Opposition leader Ryan Meili at the NDP annual convention in Saskatoon after coming out of a leadership review with a 72 per cent vote in favour of keeping him in power.  (Dayne Patterson/CBC News - image credit)
Official Opposition leader Ryan Meili at the NDP annual convention in Saskatoon after coming out of a leadership review with a 72 per cent vote in favour of keeping him in power. (Dayne Patterson/CBC News - image credit)

Provincial NDP leader Ryan Meili will remain at the helm of the Official Opposition after facing a leadership review Saturday, but says he still has work to do as a party leader.

In total, 446 delegates voted to determine a leadership review during the provincial NDP's annual convention. The vote is part of the party's convention protocol.

About 72 per cent (320) voted in favour of extending Meili's tenure while nearly 28 per cent (124) voted to hold a leadership contest. Two people abstained from voting.

Had the minority succeeded, the party would have launched a campaign to replace Meili as the party leader.

"A vote of confidence, but not overconfidence. There's room for growth, and that's what I'm working on," Meili told CBC News as the convention wrapped up in Saskatoon on Sunday.

Dayne Patterson/CBC
Dayne Patterson/CBC

"We head into the session here in a couple of weeks … you're going to see us in that legislative session prosecute [Scott Moe's pandemic] record."

When asked if there was a percentage of non-support that would have caused Meili to concede his leadership role, he said he was waiting for the decision from delegates "and they made a pretty clear decision."

Votes of confidence in Saskatchewan's neighbouring provinces conveyed a much stronger support for the official Opposition NDP leaders.

In Alberta, members voted overwhelmingly to retain NDP leader Rachel Notley with 98 per cent, and NDP Leader Wab Kinew in Manitoba received 93 per cent of votes in favour of keeping him at the wheel.

At the annual NDP convention

In an opening address Saturday morning, Meili teeter-tottered between inspiring calls for change and jabs at Premier Scott Moe's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"None of us is at our best and that goes for me as well," Meili said.

"I've tried to keep all the balls in the air, leading our party in and out of the house, answering the call to return to medicine, trying to be a good husband to Mahli, a good dad for Abraham and Gus"

"And I won't pretend for a moment that I haven't come up short in every one of those areas."

He took a moment to reflect on his own shortcomings, before ridiculing Moe for not apologizing for his own—a critique some made after Alberta Premier Jason Kenney apologized for his mishandling of pandemic restrictions.

"Scott Moe's failures are not small, his choices have cost people their lives and still he can't take any responsibility at all."

The Saskatchewan Party has been piloting the province for the past 14 years, while Moe has been the provincial premier since 2018.

In the 2020 provincial election, Moe's Saskatchewan Party earned about 61 per cent of the vote to the NDP's 32 per cent.

Matthew Howard/Trent Peppler CBC
Matthew Howard/Trent Peppler CBC

Meili said he has watched Saskatchewan residents shift their voting compass after watching Moe's handling of the pandemic.

"We've been in the wilderness for too long. Now we have a chance to change as Saskatchewan people are seeing through Scott Moe," Meili said.

A request to the Saskatchewan Party for comment was not immediately returned on Sunday.

Now that the convention has concluded, Meili said he'd take Sunday afternoon to spend some time with his family, take a breather and get back to work on Monday.

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