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Saskatchewan NDP announces June leadership convention

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WATCH: The Saskatchewan NDP will elect a new party leader to replace Ryan Meili in June, but it remains to be seen whom the party faithful will be voting for – Mar 1, 2022

Saskatchewan New Democrats will elect a new leader in June to replace Ryan Meili.

Members of the party’s provincial council said they set the rules and timing for a leadership convention on Saturday.

“That includes representatives from constituencies around the province. They discussed a number of options for a leadership race and they decided that they want to see a leadership race happen and wrap up by the end of June,” said Saskatchewan NDP provincial secretary Tim Williams.

“One of the things that happened with our last leadership race is that it was a particularly lengthy process — almost 23 months. This time we’re doing a much shorter race.”

The convention will be held in Regina in late June, but an exact date and location have not been announced.

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Read more: Ryan Meili stepping down as Saskatchewan NDP leader

Meili announced on Feb. 18 that he was stepping down once a new leader was elected.

His political future was called into question in the 2020 provincial election when the party could not expand on the 13 seats it held in the Saskatchewan legislature.

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

His leadership came under further scrutiny after the NDP lost the Athabasca byelection to the Saskatchewan Party on Feb. 15. It is the first time since the riding was created in 1905 it has not been held by the NDP or the Liberals.

Meili said that didn’t factor into his decision. He said he will remain the Saskatoon Meewasin MLA for at least one more legislative sitting as he contemplates his political future.

No one has yet formally announced they are seeking to replace Meili.

Read more: Indigenous MLA decides against running for Sask. NDP leadership

A number of prominent party members, including Trent Wotherspoon, Betty Nippi-Albright and Nicole Sarauer, have stated they will not seek the leadership.

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Leadership candidates must provide signatures from at least 100 Saskatchewan NDP members from at least 20 constituencies, half of whom must be women or gender diverse, according to the party.

They must also provide a non-refundable registration fee of $4,000, receive approval from the party to seek the leadership and limit campaign expenditures to no more than $200,000.

The NDP’s provincial council said all party members in good standing will be able to vote at the leadership convention either online or by mail-in ballot.

Read more: Search for a new leader begins for Saskatchewan NDP

Sarauer, meanwhile, has publicly endorsed Regina Lakeview MLA and colleague Carla Beck.

“I’ve been a huge fan of her since we were elected together in 2016. I think she has a great story to tell and she has exemplified strong leadership throughout her whole career and personally I’m a big fan of her,” Sarauer said.

“I love a person who you can have a bit of a social visit with, and get to know and who feels comfortable in any room they walk in and I think Carla’s that person.”

Beck said in a supplied statement that she appreciates the support and encouragement she’s been receiving and has “been having some very good conversations” about the prospect.

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“I am committed to continuing my work bringing people in and building people up. And I look forward to being part of a refreshed Saskatchewan NDP team – in whatever that role may be — and showing voters that the Saskatchewan NDP is ready to govern again,” her statement continued.

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

Former longtime Saskatchewan NDP MLA Buckley Belanger said he thinks the next party leader needs to bring fresh, innovative ideas to growing the economy. He said he thinks they will also need to appeal to centrist voters and be adept at vocally defending themselves against political opponents.

“It’s always about the economy. There’s such innovative ways we can balance our economic plans to make sure there’s Indigenous engagement, respect for the environment, and ways to invite the private sector in,” Belanger said.

“It’s about being innovative and exciting, and whoever can capture that will have a lot of support whether its urban, rural or northern Saskatchewan.”

Click to play video: 'Search  begins for new Saskatchewan NDP leader' Search begins for new Saskatchewan NDP leader
Search begins for new Saskatchewan NDP leader – Feb 21, 2022

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