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Ryan Meili’s byelection victory could change face of Saskatchewan NDP

Renewed hopes for Sask. NDP after Ryan Meili wins Saskatoon-Meewason byelection
WATCH ABOVE: Renewed hopes for Sask. NDP after Ryan Meili wins Saskatoon-Meewason byelection. Ryan Kessler reports.

Following his victory in Saskatoon’s Meewasin byelection Thursday, Ryan Meili said he was focused on the upcoming session of the legislature, rather than a third leadership bid for the provincial NDP.

Meili had sought the role unsuccessfully in 2009 and 2013.

“I have not ruled it out, no. But I think it’s too early to really say whether I’m leaning that way or not,” Meili said of another run.

READ MORE: Ryan Meili wins Saskatoon-Meewasin byelection

Heading into a new legislature session Monday, Meili said the NDP’s agenda will include resisting health care and education cuts, and opposing the privatization of SaskTel.

“We need to be presenting the problems with the government’s current agenda, and a clear and viable alternative for a better future,” he said.

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Interim NDP Leader Trent Wotherspoon said he will make decisions in the coming days regarding Meili’s portfolio in the party caucus.

He also expressed that the leadership race was about more than a single constituency.

“This is about our province, and this is about standing strong for people, the province we love and about fighting for a better way forward,” Wotherspoon said.

Meili defeated Sask Party candidate Brent Penner by 2,666 votes (54.2 per cent) to 1,962 votes (39.9 per cent).

READ MORE: Split emerging in Sask. NDP over sharing resource royalty revenue

Following Penner’s defeat, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall told reporters he thinks Meili will be the next leader of the NDP and move the party further to the left of the political spectrum.

“I think it’ll create an even greater contrast in the issues like carbon tax, the economy [and] the budget,” Wall said.

Though Meili has been noncommittal toward the leadership so far, University of Saskatchewan political scientist Greg Poelzer said Meili’s third leadership attempt is likely.

“Ryan Meili moving the party a little bit to the left, should he become the leader, might appeal to a lot of people in the 35-to-65-year-old range more … than the younger generation,” Poelzer said.

“Who comes out to vote matters.”

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The Saskatchewan NDP leadership convention is planned for spring 2018.