Saturday, 23 February 2013

Quick Observation: What The Ryan Meili & Erin Weir Alliance Broadly Defines

It has been less than a week since Ryan Meili & Erin Weir announced their alliance.

Media Party reaction has been swift & standard. Both Murray Mandryk & John Gormley read from the same "script" in their respective attempts to define these potential victors. Each conjured up a parallel universe and condemned the heretics for not adhering to its seemingly divine rules. Each employed cheap & lazy caricature to avoid the hard work of honest policy assessment. If this sounds familiar, it is because I exposed you to this exact "script" in my series on federal NDP trade policy. I also hinted at the employment of such tactics in my recent series on the Saskatchewan NDP leadership process.  

Ryan & Erin would be correct to resent the disingenuous & fallacy-ridden nature of such attacks. Just as Trent & Cam would be correct to resent the implication that they are not sincere in values or substantive in policy.

I would encourage Saskatchewan NDP members to reject the notion of broad ideological divide. While there are some particular policy differences, the separate policy packages all adhere to traditional & unapologetic NDP values. Rather, what the Meili-Weir alliance has defined (in more broad terms) are two competing marketing "approaches".

Trent Wotherspoon & Cam Broten are incorrectly described as "retail politicians" in the dismissive sense of the term. Put more accurately, they are men who possess political acumen. They understand the vulnerabilities of the electorate & recognize the tactics of exploitation available to a resourceful enemy. Their resulting approach is broad and cautious.

Ryan Meili and Erin Weir, by contrast, are not "politicians" in any sense of the word. Meili wears his heart on his sleeve. Both he & Weir insist that their policies should be equally exposed. They believe in the sophistication of the electorate, and the appeal of factual accuracy. Their resulting approach is direct and weighty.

If you read my previous series on the Saskatchewan NDP leadership process, then you will already know where I stand in regard to these competing approaches. Based on the current context & the NDP's distance from power...the more refined approach favoured by Wotherspoon & Broten offers a better chance at sustained & unimpeded electoral growth. And, of course, I continue to recommend Trent Wotherspoon for leadership - based on his ability to fairly evaluate & successfully execute any "sell" that the NDP membership requires.

Having made such a determination, I would also like to offer a clarification. There is clearly a chance that Ryan Meili will win this race. In the event of such a victory, no one who agrees with my assessment should condemn Meili to a particular fate. During the debates, Cam Broten cautioned Meili about his peculiar approach & its inherent risks. One aspect of Meili's response was interesting: he promised that he would "tighten up" (words to that effect) his approach upon assuming leadership.

So it is entirely possible that Meili is capable of "learning on the job" and correcting any revealed deficiencies in his approach. In such an event, I would hope that both Wotherspoon & Broten (or any other capable NDP official) offer genuine advice with the intent of imparting finesse. Regardless, this forum & its author stand ready to contribute in service of such refinement. Anything can be "sold" - with the right approach (even Erin Weir's currently un-adopted small-business-loophole correction).

Good luck to all you gentlemen,
Dan Tan


  1. Fascinating post. Thanks for this. One way to interpret this might be to suggest that those who support Trent on first ballot (like you), might be best suited to moving to Ryan for second ballot.


    1. I'm sorry... this was meant to be 1st choice and 2nd choice, not ballot. Ballot makes assumptions that should not be made. :-)

    2. Aaron,

      It will be a matter of personal taste.

      I don't mean this to sound insulting or cute, but - IMO - the alternative to Trent Wotherspoon is uncertainty.

      Where I could discern a broad, inclusive, and confident approach with Wotherspoon...I can do no such thing with the other candidates.

      My previous series already discussed the potential risks carried by these alternate options. And this post clarified that such risks are not necessarily "fatal". Much will depend on circumstance & the candidate's ability to adapt.

      Hence, I view the "second choice" candidates as wild-cards. If such a choice between wild-cards arises, members will have to decide which approach they personally prefer, and what type of risk they wish to incur.

      Go with your gut & cross those fingers,
      Dan Tan