Some Final Thoughts on #skndpldr

Well, by now, you’ve probably heard that Cam Broten beat Ryan Meili on the second ballot at the Saskatchewan NDP Leadership convention this weekend to become the party’s new leader.

It was incredibly close – Broten won by 44 votes out of 8284 cast – meaning the margin of victory was 50.3% to 49.7%. (I will never again refer to Ryan’s 55% – 45% loss to Dwain Lingenfelter in 2009 as “close”!) 😉

The first thing to do is send a hearty and sincere congratulations to Cam Broten, not just for winning but also for *how* he won. During the weekend, somebody told me that it is extremely rare for a candidate who comes in first on a first ballot (as Ryan did) to be caught on a subsequent ballot. That Cam did this speaks to his team’s incredible focus and performance through the entire race and especially during the day of convention.

I also want to congratulate Trent Wotherspoon and his team for the campaign they ran which was classy and dignified right until his final concession speech. Near the start of the race, I said that Trent had I saw elements of Dwain Lingenfelter in him and of all the things I’ve said on this blog, that’s probably one of the comments I regret the most. That’s because, upon reflection, it came as much from who Trent had supported in 2009 and who was supporting him this time around rather than anything about Trent’s personal character. So if he happens to read this, I apologize for that.

The flip side of that mis-characterization is that Trent was the candidate who grew on me the most as the race went on. I never blogged about it but one recurring thought I had was that, although I was most attracted to Ryan’s vision and idealism, I also often thought that if I was ever to run for politics (god forbid!), Trent woud likely be the candidate I’d most be like – the outgoing personality, the extreme pleasure he obviously takes in talking and listening to people – are also characteristics I see in myself. (The rugged outdoorsmanship – not so much!) 😉

Erin Weir was another candidate whose final result doesn’t come close to reflecting what he brought to the race in terms of asking the tough questions, demanding accountability from not only the other candidates but the Sask Party and giving Ryan Meili a good run for best quips/most humourous candidate. (There was another “tie” on convention day – Erin’s line introducing Ryan about “I dropped out of the race to endorse Ryan and all I got was this lousy t-shirt” was equalled for funniest line of the day when Ryan, during his speech, had a dry mouth moment just as he began to mention the Sask Party and nimbly recovered by joking “I can’t even bear to say their name in this room!” Erin’s dropping out to support Ryan was perhaps the most courageous, brave decision of the entire race and he needs to be commended for taking that action too – a true show of leadership and conviction.

And then there’s Ryan.

What else can I say about a candidate who was able to raise the most money, sign up the most new members, do the most online outreach (I’ll have more thoughts on that aspect in a future post!) and inspire people around the province and indeed, across the country so that he came within a city bus full of people of becoming the new leader of the NDP against two sitting MLA’s and all the advantages (real and perceived) that status confers?

It was never ever going to be a sure thing no matter how successful Ryan was in the other aspects of the campaign and I feel like I nailed it in a post back in November when I looked at how much change/renewal each candidate represented and how people’s natural bias towards the status quo would be a huge hurdle to overcome…

You’re probably reading this and thinking I’m dismissing the other three and holding up Ryan as some perfect choice for the party. In a weird way, I think it may be the opposite.

In my view, Ryan’s the right choice. But he’s got probably the biggest hurdle in front of him to make this case to others who will be voting for leader. Even with the debacle of the last provincial election, studies have repeatedly shown that people are naturally resistant to major change – even when they should know better – and this leadership race could end up being another example of that.

Also while we’re talking about quasi-prescient comments, also in November, I was did a blog post about trolls and mentioned how some might read a post where I said that three of the four candidates had natural portfolios they could slot into but Cam didn’t as trolling but that it could also be interpreted as me saying that the only place Cam could slot in was as Leader! 😉

“Well, if there’s no natural cabinet spot for him like the other three, the only thing left for Cam is to be Leader.”

Anyhow, that’s a quick run through of some of my thoughts coming out of an amazing weekend.

I started this post by mentioning how the 2009 race doesn’t seem “close” now that I’ve seen what that word really means. For that reason, you think I’d be a lot more disappointed to have come this close and fallen a whisker short (wouldn’t it be ironic that, after all the fun we had with the fact that Ryan kept his beard throughout the campaign that there were 44 people who didn’t like it and voted against him? People voted for and against Jack Layton based on his mustache so weirder things have happened!) 😉 but actually, I’m feeling pretty good about this overall even though it wasn’t the outcome I wanted.

No matter how many times the media brings it up, I don’t think this reflects a divided party (at least not in the same way that it was in 2009 where the division was one of fairly open and ugly hostility) but it does reflect a near-perfect division between people who are want a little bit of change and those who wanted a whole new way of doing politics. Cam is clearly smart enough to recognize that a victory by < 1% is not a massive mandate and there’s a huge amount of work to be done to balance the interests of these two separate but intertwined constituencies.

After Ryan lost in 2009, I did a blog post speculating on how things might have been different if he’d won. Perhaps I’ve become more stoic in my old age but I feel no need to write a similar post this time around. The reality we have is the reality we have. The sun came up today, my son ran and jumped in my arms when I got home, my wife is reading him a story as I type this. In summary, life goes on.

I was planning to do this anyhow, win or lose, but now that the race is over, I’m pretty sure this will be the last post I tag with #skndpldr and push out to Twitter although I’m also fairly sure I will write more about the race on this blog in the days, weeks and months to come.

But by stopping my active engagement with the people who follow #skndpldr, I feel like I’m providing closure for myself and also allowing myself to once again be a bit more open with my thoughts and opinions about not only the leadership race but all aspects of Saskatchewan politics.

I started the race back in September with a disclaimer that I was going to be working on Ryan’s campaign but that I still saw my blog as a separate, independent platform for my thoughts and opinions. But as the race went on, it was quickly clear that my involvement was going to be at a much higher level than I anticipated (I have a post drafted where I try to summarize exactly what I’ve put into this campaign that I’ll likely publish – perhaps tomorrow as a final Meili Monday post?) and, as a member of the “positive” campaign, I would have to be a bit more guarded with what I was writing here than I might otherwise be, even compared to 2009. (This was never requested by anybody in the campaign and to their credit, I never once got a hand slap for anything I wrote on this blog during the campaign even though I’m sure there were times when I crossed the line as to what they were comfortable with.)

Oh, okay, I’ll share one final prescient comment I made. This one wasn’t public but on one of our team’s private forums, I predicted that Ryan’s percentage of the first ballot would be 39%. It was 38.9%.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks 2

  1. From Head Tale - What. The. Fuck. Was THAT? (President Trump edition) on 10 Nov 2016 at 8:09 am

    […] comparison’s sake, when Ryan Meili lost the NDP Leadership to Cam Broten – which coincidentally happened after our internal numbers also projected a 75-80% chance […]

  2. From Head Tale - Throwback Thursday – #tbt – “I’m Voting Obama” (November 2012) on 10 Nov 2016 at 8:43 am

    […] when Cam Broten beat Ryan Meili by 44 votes out of thousands cast after Ryan was widely expected to win, I learned the hard way that you can never count someone […]

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