Sask. NDP criticized online for First Nations revenue sharing decision

A former Saskatchewan NDP leader candidate calls the decision to no longer promise First Nations revenue sharing an "embarrassing step backwards."

Former Sask. NDP leader candidate Ryan Meili calls the decision an 'embarrassing step backwards'

Opposition Leader Cam Broten said the Saskatchewan NDP will no longer be campaigning for First Nations revenue sharing. (CBC)

After news spread that the Saskatchewan NDP is no longer promising First Nations revenue sharing, some of the province's party members are not happy with the news.

"This is a decision that needs to be identified as an embarrassing step backwards," Ryan Meili wrote in a Facebook post.

'More importantly it is inconsistent with the needs of this province."- Ryan Meili

Referring to a CBC News article, Meili wrote that Saskatchewan NDP Leader Cam Broten's words were inconsistent with party policy and his position when running for leadership of the party.

"More importantly it is inconsistent with the needs of this province, with an approach to creating greater equality between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, and very likely with the laws of the land," Meili wrote.

"As for suggesting that First Nations leadership is opposed to revenue-sharing, that is an outright falsehood, completely inconsistent with the official position of the FSIN," he added.

At the end of his post, Meili urged other members of the party to bring forward their disappointment with Broten's decision as well.

"Ignoring party policy is no way to approach democracy. Ruling out an essential tool for dealing with poverty and inequality is no way to approach reconciliation," he wrote.

Part of an electoral strategy

Daniel Béland​, Canada Research Chair in Public Policy at Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, said this is probably part of Cam Broten’s electoral strategy to move towards the centre. (Victoria Dinh/CBC)

Daniel Béland is the Canada Research Chair in Public Policy at the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy.

He said Broten's decision to stop campaigning for revenue sharing is part an electoral strategy to move towards the centre and away from the left-wing. Béland​ said it was vague to begin with as a one-sentence statement in the 2011 platform.

"This was really a project that was really controversial in 2011 among many voters and so there is a sense that it is too risky, especially if the NDP wants to be more competitive this time around," Béland​ said. "So maybe from an electoral standpoint, it's a smart move. But it may create tensions within the party and also the aboriginal support for the NDP might decline as a result."

Although this type of debate is normal within the party, Béland​ said it could have a negative impact in the future.

"If it gets out of hand, and too many people criticize Broten for that move and there is no strong discipline within the party about this, then of course that could create some problems for him come election day," he said.

NDP responds

According to an NDP spokesperson, the province was made aware of this decision over a year ago.

"Instead, we're campaigning on meaningful specifics, starting with the education funding gap," a spokesperson wrote in a statement.

"That decision was supported by delegates at the party's last convention and most feedback on this has been very positive. We're confident that those who have expressed concerns will appreciate our focus, once they see more details."

Ryan Meili posted this comment to his Facebook page. (Facebook)