Erin Weir drops out of Saskatchewan NDP race

Erin Weir has dropped out of the Saskatchewan NDP leadership race.
Erin Weir, left, has endorsed Ryan Meili, right, for leadership of the Saskatchewan NDP. (CBC)

Erin Weir has dropped out of the Saskatchewan NDP leadership race.

The Regina economist announced Wednesday he will support Ryan Meili instead.

Weir said the two share many of the same ideas on resource revenues, climate change, retirement security and workers' rights.

"His book, his policy announcements during the campaign and his comments in leadership debates across the province reflect Ryan's commitment to many of the proposals that I have put forward. I believe that he is the candidate best positioned to ensure progressive leadership of our party," Weir said.

The other candidates are MLAs Trent Wotherspoon of Regina and Cam Broten of Saskatoon.

Weir had been the second New Democrat, after Broten, to enter the race when he threw his hat into the ring last September.

Weir said he made "an assessment" that Meili was ahead of him in the campaign and the timing was right to withdraw.

"This is certainly a very important juncture in the leadership race," said Weir.  "We finished a series of 14 debates all across the province and we still have a number of days left before the suggested deadline for party members to get their ballots in the mail, if they're voting that way."

Meili, standing next to Weir, would not speculate on what the move might mean for his chances on March 9.

"I'm always hesitant to comment on the horse race and say who's in first, who's in second," said Meili.

"All that I can say is this gives us one, a chance to connect to Erin's supporters and hopefully have them bring their support on board, but also to talk to those people who haven't made their decision — and there still is a large number of New Democrats who are undecided."

The winner will take over from John Nilson, who has been interim leader since Dwain Lingenfelter resigned after the 2011 provincial election.

Lingenfelter lost own his seat and the party dropped to nine seats in the 58-seat legislature.

Saskatchewan and challenging Brad Wall, a popular premier whose Saskatchewan Party won a record 64 per cent of the popular vote in the last election.

With files from The Canadian Press