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Home News Former Prince Albert NDP MLA surprised by Meili resignation

Former Prince Albert NDP MLA surprised by Meili resignation

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Former Prince Albert NDP MLA surprised by Meili resignation
NDP leader Ryan Meili speaks during the party's 2019 convention in Prince Albert. -- Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald

Former NDP MLA Nicole Rancourt said she wasn’t expecting to hear Ryan Meili resign Friday morning.

Rancourt, who represented Prince Albert Northcote for the NDP from 2016 to 2020, thanked Meili for his work as leader, but said she was caught a bit off guard by his decision to step down.

“I was actually quite surprised,” she said on Friday. “It was something I wasn’t expecting to hear this week.

“I do know Ryan has worked very hard and we really appreciate all the work that he’s done as leader. This is a tough decision and I know he had to put a lot of thought into it. We still do appreciate everything he has done for our party.”

Meili will remain as leader until the party chooses a replacement. He told reporters on Friday he hoped to see a someone take the role in the next few months.

Rancourt said the last two years have been challenging for the party, which may have played a role in Meili’s departure. However, she remains optimistic the NDP can rebound and win the next election.

“Our election results in 2020 weren’t exactly what we were hoping (for), and then of course our election result in Athabasca was a big hit for us as New Democrats,” she said.

“Our party needs to take this time to really connect with voters. We know that the popularity of the Sask. Party is decreasing because a lot of people are unhappy with how Scott Moe has handled this pandemic, but we have to make sure that the voters know there is a good alternative in supporting the New Democrats.

Going forward, Rancourt said the party needs someone who can inspire voters who typically don’t show up on election day. She worries residents under the age of 40 are giving up on voting as a way to create social change. She’s hoping a new NDP leader can reverse that trend.

“I know we’ve got a lot of very strong, capable leaders within our party who will be coming forward,” Rancourt said. “I think the person that we need to see coming forward needs to be someone who can resonate with the voters who aren’t necessarily coming to the polls…. We need a leader to motivate those voters and show them that their vote really does matter.”

Meili defeated Regina Rosemont MLA Trent Wotherspoon to become the party’s leader in 2018. On Friday, Wotherspoon also thanked Meili for his dedication and hard work in a social media post.

“Serving as a leader is rewarding in many ways, but it’s also a tremendous grind and sacrifice of time with family,” he wrote. “Thanks to Ryan’s family for sharing him.”

Regina Douglas Park MLA Nicole Sarauer served as interim leader prior to Meili’s victory. She, like Rancourt, remained confident the party could rebound and win the next election.

“This doesn’t stop us or slow us down from doing important work that needs to be done right now,” she wrote on Twitter. “We have a great team that can and will get it done together.”

Sarauer added that she was proud to work alongside Meili, and remained grateful for his leadership during a difficult time.