Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan NDP leader decided today

NDP members in Saskatchewan will find out who their new leader is Saturday afternoon in Regina.

Ryan Meili and Trent Wotherspoon vying to lead the party

Trent Wotherspoon and Ryan Meili make their final speeches during the Saskatchewan NDP leadership convention, held in Regina on Saturday. (Alex Soloducha/CBC News)

Will the third time be the charm for Ryan Meili, or is it Trent Wotherspoon's turn to take the reins of the Saskatchewan NDP permanently?

NDP members in Saskatchewan will find out who their new leader is Saturday afternoon in Regina.

Wotherspoon, 38, has represented Regina Rosemont since 2007. He was interim party leader from April 2016 to June 2017, following the resignation of Cam Broten.

He took to the stage at Saturday's convention, flanked by six of his caucus colleagues — Nicole Rancourt, Buckley Belanger, Carla Beck, Doyle Vermette and Danielle Chartier.

"We must build our party and our movement," he told members during his final pitch speech. 

Trent Wotherspoon addresses the crowd at the Saskatchewan NDP's leadership convention on Saturday afternoon, with six of his caucus colleagues standing by him to offer their support of Wotherspoon as leader. (Alex Soloducha/CBC News)

Meili, 42, won a by-election in the Saskatoon Meewasin constituency in Mar. 2017.

Cathy Sproule was the sole caucus member who took the stage in support on Meili on Saturday. 

Surrounded by a group of supporters, Meili pitched himself as the candidate for change and spoke of the need for the party—and province— to take a risk for change instead of keeping with the status quo. 

'It's not enough to talk about what we're fighting against, we have to show what we're fighting for," he said. 

Ryan Meili, the Saskatoon Meewasin MLA, was chosen as the new leader for the Saskatchewan NDP on Saturday. (Alex Soloducha/CBC)

Both candidates spoke of the need to build rural support, where the governing Saskatchewan Party holds the vast majority of ridings, except for two northern seats. 

Neither candidate is a stranger to a leadership race. Wotherspoon finished third in 2013's race, while Meili lost in both 2009 and 2013. At the 2013 leadership convention, Meili led after the first ballot and Wotherspoon was third. Wotherspoon dropped off before the second ballot, Cam Broten edged Meili by just 44 votes to win.

Meili says he represents change

"It really is time for a change in Saskatchewan, people are looking for a change but they're also looking for the NDP to demonstrate some change as well," Meili said. "I think people have responded to some new ideas, a new approach." 

Meili said his policy was more robust than Wotherspoon's.

"Trent and I are friends and colleagues, there's a lot we have in common on what we want to achieve. I've been able to articulate a bit more deeply how we could actually do that, both how from a policy point of view but also how we win the next election."

Wotherspoon lauds caucus support

Wotherspoon has received endorsements from many current and former NDP MLAs.

"The support I have from our incredible team of MLAs means the world to me. These are the very people who have watched me in action. They've watched my judgment, they've watched how I respond to pressure, so I think that means an awful lot; I think our colleagues know us quite well."

Wotherspoon said he's been excited about the diverse support he's receiving from around the province.

"I'm feeling really good about building a progressive force. I look forward to working to unite that force and looking to build that next election."

Key policy pieces

While both candidates agree they share some common ground on many issues. They did highlight a few policy initiatives they feel most proud of.

"I've got the strongest plan to lock down our crown corporations and then expand them for future generations. I've laid forward a commitment to delivering universal mental health and addictions services. Far too many people are suffering in silence. We must fix our broken mental health system," Wotherspoon said.

"The things that have really got people's attention is the commitment to universal pharmacare, commitment to a $15 minimum wage and getting rid of corporate and union donations and the commitment to do so in this race," Meili said.

"I think that really did strike people as an example of leading by example and taking a bit of a risk for what I believe in."

Meili raises more money

Ryan Meili pledged to only accept donations from individuals during the leadership campaign and managed to raise nearly $157,700 from 896 donors, according to the party, by the end of January. Wotherspoon has received more than $127,300 from 538 different donors, including unions.

Meili did not receive much financial support from NDP elected members, as only MP Erin Weir contributed to his campaign. Weir made the same donation to Wotherspoon.

NDP MLA Ryan Meili won his seat in a byelection last year, and was supported by Trent Wotherspoon, who was the NDP interim leader at the time. The two men both ran for the leadership of the party, with Meili prevailing in the race. (Trevor Bothorel/CBC)

Meanwhile, multiple members of the Saskatchewan NDP caucus made financial donations to Wotherspoon; Warren McCall, Nicole Rancourt, Doyle Vermette and Carla Beck.

Wotherspoon has also received donations from CUPE Saskatchewan, United Steelworkers Local 5890 and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 2038.

Convention schedule

The leadership convention gets underway at the Delta Hotel in Regina at 1 p.m. CST.

  • 1:20 - Trent Wotherspoon makes his address
  • 1:50 - Ryan Meili makes his address
  • 2:15 to 3:15 - Break for balloting
  • ​3:15 - Address Interim leader Nicole Sarauer 
  • 3:40 - Results announcement
  • 3:45 - Winner's speech

CBC Saskatchewan will carry the event live on Facebook beginning at approximately 3:15 p.m. CST.

Adam Hunter and Stephanie Taylor will be living tweeting from the convention. On mobile? Click here.

About the Author

Adam Hunter

Journalist

Adam Hunter is the provincial affairs reporter at CBC Saskatchewan, based in Regina. He has been with CBC for 12 years. He hosts the CBC podcast On the Ledge. Follow him on Twitter @AHiddyCBC. Contact him: adam.hunter@cbc.ca