NDP HOLDS CONVENTION
Delegates will flesh out planks in party platform
A steady drizzle fell from the slategrey sky as the first Saskatchewan NDP members arrived at the party’s annual convention, which is being framed as a chance to project unity and excitement ahead of the next election campaign.
Party officials expect about 400 people to show up at Saskatoon’s TCU Place for the three-day event, but only a few dozen had trickled through the doors by the time the first panel talks got underway Friday afternoon.
Ryan Meili, who was elected to lead the party in March, is scheduled to address the convention Saturday morning — a speech he’s expected to use as an opportunity to outline some of his early campaign platform planks.
While the NDP has yet to release a platform, it will likely include a $15 an hour minimum wage as well as a new renewable energy and climate change strategy that insiders began hinting at earlier this week.
Speaking with reporters, Meili refused to divulge specific details of the “made-in-Saskatchewan plan” except to say it will be “more comprehensive” than SaskPower’s current goal of doubling the province’s reliance on renewables by 2030.
“That’s, of course, only part of the overall scheme. You do need to look at how we reduce emissions among the high-emitting, emissions-intensive industries within the province, as well as throughout the economy,” Meili said.
As Meili and other guests — including Alberta Environment Minister Shannon Phillips and Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions president Linda Silas — deliver speeches, party members will debate and vote on a grab bag of resolutions.
Many are predictable, including calls for a judicial inquiry into the Global Transportation Hub scandal, the abolishment of payday lenders, the reversal of Saskatchewan Party cuts to education and the re-creation of the Saskatchewan Transportation Co.
A few appear to underscore the party’s political reality, including a request to recognize the agriculture and rural life committee as a formal wing of the party with the aim of winning rural seats in 2020.
Another suggests the party is in “limbo” and not “creating direction for its members and the general public,” and calls for the party brass to flesh out and publicize its policies on a range of issues, such as education, health care and the economy.
One simply calls for concision: “Be it resolved that resolutions be written without preamble (‘whereas’) statements.”
The party is also set to elect a new president this weekend.
David McGrane, the University of Saskatchewan professor who has held the post since late 2016, is not seeking re-election. Instead, he’s expected to seek a nomination in an unspecified Saskatoon constituency.
It wasn’t clear on Friday who will replace McGrane. Nominations for the job, which includes responsibility for internal governance and the provincial council, close Saturday afternoon.
Doyle Vermette, left, MLA for the northern riding of Cumberland, was among the first to check in at TCU Place for the 2018 Saskatchewan NDP Convention. Party officials expect about 400 people will attend the three-day event, though only a few had trickled in early Friday afternoon.