Saskatchewan NDP considers electing new leader sooner

The Saskatchewan NDP is considering electing a new leader sooner than next May.

The party had scheduled a leadership convention for May 6, but that was before Premier Brad Wall announced he was resigning, sparking a leadership race for the Saskatchewan Party.

Its members will vote for a new leader in January — and whoever they choose will become premier and lead the government in the legislature for the spring budget.

“I think we should have a discussion,” said NDP party president David McGrane.

“I think it’s time to revisit this in light of new information, but that’s where I’m at at the moment. I’m for having a discussion and I’m keeping an open mind as well.”

The two leadership candidates in the race so far, Ryan Meili and Trent Wotherspoon, both said they would happily accept a leadership convention in May or sooner, depending on what party members decide.

“I think there’s merit to the consideration and I’ll support and be ready for whatever council decides on Saturday,” said Wotherspoon.

“I think it’s a fair question and one that I’m happy to see council discussing,” said Meili. “It is a long race to go to May and there are certainly some advantages to having our leader in right away. There are also some potential disadvantages to going more quickly.”

A political scientist believes the party would be wise to move its leadership vote up.

“The next budget’s going to be another austere one and quite frankly, if they’re not having a permanent leader put a face to that I don’t understand what the point of a permanent leader is,” said Charles Smith, an associate professor of political studies at the University of Saskatchewan.

“They need to have a permanent face to the party so that they can be the face of the Opposition to this government over the next two years.”

Members of the NDP’s executive will decide Friday night whether to recommend an earlier date for a leadership convention.

If it does, members of the party’s provincial council will vote on the idea Saturday at a previously scheduled meeting in Moose Jaw, Sask.

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