An Open Letter to Premier Calvert

Hello Premier Calvert,

I know that you don't know me – I mean, we're Facebook friends but I see that you don't log in that often – so we don't really get a chance to chat.  So I thought a letter on my blog might be the best way to reach you.

First off, congrats on your final day in the Legislature today – I'm sure you're experiencing a huge range of emotions now that you're a free man for the first time since 1986.  Still, I know you're also  busy getting ready to hand over the reigns of the party in less than a month to only the ninth leader in the CCF/NDP's 77 year history and prepare for your new job at St. Andrew's College.   So I'll get right to the point. 

I strongly believe that you should endorse Ryan Meili as your choice for the new leader of the Saskatchewan New Democratic Party. 

Now, I know that you and other party elders traditionally stay neutral in a race like this so that the best person may win without any hint of bias or controversy.  I don't remember Roy Romanow endorsing anyone the year that you won the leadership and I suspect this would hold true going back through the other various leadership races the NDP has held. 

Except that this year it feels like something different is happening and the stakes feel much higher than they've been in at least a generation when Mr. Romanow defeated Grant Devine after two years of disastrous Conservative rule in Saskatchewan. 

The leadership race's current front-runner, Dwain Lingenfelter claims he can hold Mr. Wall to one term but in his quest to win the leadership of the party at any cost, he may have done serious damage to the NDP and its chances for electoral success in 2011. 

The Hale Report has basically cleared Mr. Lingenfelter of any wrong-doing but as a new party member, I still find it extremely troubling that an experienced business executive (and the people around him) could let this happen, that the Lingenfelter campaign would pay $10 000 in small bills rather than cutting a single cheque for these purchased memberships “for ease of processing for DLC and provincial office” and most troubling, the underlying but unstated implication that those involved in this situation accept that that all First Nations people are destitute and can't afford their own memberships.  These are not the marks of a 21st century leader in my mind and not what the NDP needs at this critical juncture in its history.

On the other hand, we have a young candidate in Dr. Meili who is fairly new to the party but who is already showing (and has shown through his previous work in the far north, in your own constituency in Saskatoon's inner-city and in developing nations overseas) many of the qualities and convictions that have linked the NDP's leaders from Tommy Douglas to Mr. Lloyd, Mr. Blakeney to Mr. Romanow to yourself.  This is a very exclusive group and I believe Ryan Meili has so much more potential to add to the NDP's legacy, should he join that illustrious group than Mr. Lingenfelter.  (Meili's SaskPharm idea is just one example of the idealistic, innovative thinking that our greatest leaders have shown – brilliant for tying together so many strands of Saskatchewan life – the healthcare needs of an aging boomer population, value-added production of our agricultural products and all of the economic opportunities that will come from being involved in one of the world's most profitable sectors.) 

Ryan Meili is the reason I've joined the party, volunteered, given my time and expertise.  I know lots of other young people (and people who feel young again because of Ryan) who have similar stories.  Now it feels like, should Mr. Lingenfelter prevail on June 6, all of these gains will be lost if many of these young new members become disillusioned. 

I know that you're loyal to your party and the thought of endorsing a candidate will feel incredibly wrong.  But at the same time, I believe this is about more than politics, it is about no less than the future of our province.

Sometimes we have opportunities placed before us that show the depth of our character, our values and our principles.  I strongly encourage you to do the right thing for the party you've given much of your life to (and which has given you so much in return) by endorsing the one candidate who's best suited to lead the NDP into the future and continue its legacy of innovation and compassion for the people of this province. 

If you agree, please consider my proposal (and if you have any further thoughts, feel free to send me a message on Facebook! )


Jason Hammond
Regina, SK

Comments 2

  1. Anonymous wrote:

    You are not a new party member. I think you admitted to have joined the party during the 2001 election but because Calvert won you were no longer inspired.

    Posted 15 May 2009 at 5:20 am
  2. Anonymous wrote:

    You got me. I bought a party membership in 2001, basically to vote for a one-issue candidate who was relevant to my working life at the time. That was the extent of my involvement as I didn't volunteer, phone bank, sell memberships, troll on blogs or anything else.
    One (possibly two?) months after buying the membership and voting in the leadership race, I moved to Alberta and never took out a membership again…until now. That's why I consider myself a new member. So technically, I'm not a new member but I'm definitely a new member in spirit and attitude.
    Of course, using the same semantic jujitsu, we should also therefore be able to agree that there's no way that Dwain Lingenfelter can be the candidate of change and renewal as he claims to be, having been around the NDP for what, thirty years?, (except when he too, disappeared to Alberta for a few years.)
    I'm sure Ryan and Yens will be glad to hear that you've admitted they're the true agents of change in this race! 😉

    Posted 15 May 2009 at 2:32 pm

Trackbacks & Pingbacks 1

  1. From Head Tale - @ryanMeili Monday – The Most Important Endorsement? #skndpldr on 07 Jan 2013 at 9:32 pm

    […] a former Leader breaking with tradition to come out in favour of one of the candidates, who else remains?  Although I don’t think they’re quite as influential as they appear […]

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