My candidacy, as someone not currently in caucus, offers us the opportunity to add to the talent in the Legislature.
Rather than asking one of the nine MLAs to step aside so I could run in a by-election, I would work on building the party across the province until an opportunity presented itself – whether in a by-election or in the next general election – to seek a seat.
Trent, Cam, and the other sitting MLAs are doing an excellent job of challenging the Sask Party in the Legislature. My groundwork across the province would complement their efforts, and amplify the NDP’s ability to present Saskatchewan with an alternative to the status quo.
There are powerful precedents for this approach. I’ll briefly mention two.
One example close to home is that of Grant Devine. Probably the best gift the NDP ever gave the Conservatives was defeating Devine in a by-election, allowing him to travel the province, grow his party, and soundly defeat us in 1982.
A second example – farther from home, but closer to the hearts of New Democrats – is that of Jack Layton. When he was elected leader of the federal NDP he was not an MP, and he did not seek a seat until the first general election after being chosen as leader. Instead, he spent that time on the road, building the party and laying the groundwork for greater success in the next election.
His legacy is a stronger, more popular NDP.
In addition to challenging the Sask Party in the Legislature, we need to be present in every community, repairing damaged relationships and forging new ones, listening to the concerns of Saskatchewan people, and working together to develop a vision of a healthy society.
Concerns have been raised that having a leader outside of caucus would be too costly for the party. This is more about trying to dismiss the candidacy of a non-MLA than it is about any real financial barrier. The party has already budgeted for a modest stipend for the leader and I am committed to ensuring that this does not become a burden for the party. My campaign's consistent success in fundraising is already a good indicator that we can grow the party's support base enough to not just meet our expenses, but quickly retire the current debt and build toward a more stable financial future.
The choice of any candidate poses unique logistical challenges. The most important consideration is not which candidate is the cheapest option – we will not corner-cut our way to success. The Saskatchewan NDP needs to choose the most qualified candidate, the leader most likely to attract a wider audience, the leader most able to build unity and rebuild the party.
So what's the equation for success for the NDP going forward?
It's not subtracting, it's adding. It's Better Together. It's 9 + 1.
To pledge your vote to Ryan, go to www.ryanmei.li/pledge, or text YES to 1.306.988.1685.