Ryan Meili stepping down as Saskatchewan NDP leader

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan NDP Leader Ryan Meili announces resignation'
Saskatchewan NDP Leader Ryan Meili announces resignation
WATCH: The leader of Saskatchewan’s provincial NDP Ryan Meili announced on Friday that he’s resigning from his role, but will remain as the leader until a leadership convention is held – Feb 18, 2022

Ryan Meili said he took a walk in the snow with his dog earlier in the week as he completed his future as the leader of the Saskatchewan NDP.

He made his decision known on Friday, saying he is resigning as party leader, but will officially step down once a new leader is elected at a leadership convention.

Read more: Ryan Meili will remain as Saskatchewan NDP leader

He said it is the right choice to give New Democrats the chance to have a new voice.

“I’m sorry for those that I am disappointing today,” Meili said in announcing his decision.

“I personally will feel some degree of loss. You don’t become the leader of the Opposition to stay leader of the Opposition, you do it to become premier and that’s not going to happen.”

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He will remain as the MLA for Saskatoon Meewasin for at least one more session as he contemplates his political future.

Meili said he has no regrets for speaking up for public health actions over the last two years during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I have no regrets for saying we have to be courageous and tell people the truth and not simply pander,” he said.

“The only regret I have is that we weren’t able to force this government to take COVID more seriously, to act to protect people’s lives, to protect our health system, to protect people’s jobs.”

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan NDP Leader Ryan Meili has ‘no regrets’ about speaking up on pandemic handling amid resignation'
Saskatchewan NDP Leader Ryan Meili has ‘no regrets’ about speaking up on pandemic handling amid resignation

Premier Scott Moe said Meili is falling on the sword for the policies of his caucus.

“These policies have been divisive at times, their positions on mandates, their positions on lockdowns, they wanted to lock down sooner,” Moe told Rawlco’s John Gormley.

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“They wanted him to go deeper, to close more businesses down, and they also wanted them to last longer, in fact, we would still have them on today, that’s the policy of the party.”

Read more: Saskatchewan Party’s surprise win in Athabasca may be a result of regional politics - USask prof

Meili defeated Trent Wotherspoon in March 2018 to become the leader of the party on his third attempt, becoming the third leader of the party since Lorne Calvert resigned in 2008.

He was first elected to the legislature in a March 2017 byelection in the Saskatoon Meewasin riding and narrowly won his seat in the October 2020 provincial election.

He stayed on as the leader of the party after the NDP won 13 out of 61 seats in the 2020 election.

In a review last October, 72 per cent of the delegates voted in favour of Meili staying on as the leader of the party.

Meili’s leadership came into question earlier this week after the Saskatchewan Party won the Athabasca riding in a byelection.

He said that didn’t factor into his decision, one Meili said he had been thinking about for a while.

“There just comes a moment when you know,” Meili said.

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“It’s really that larger question about what kind of a voice we need going forward.”

This is the first time since the Athabasca riding was created in 1905 that it is not been held by either the NDP or the Liberals. The NDP had held the riding since 1998.

Outside of politics, Meili is a family physician.

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