Meili pledges campaign finance reform

Ryan Meili speaks at the FSIN spring assembly on May 17, 2017 in Prince Albert. (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

NDP leadership candidate says he won’t take money from unions or corporations

Ryan Meili thinks the best way to prevent scandals such as those surrounding former Sask. Party MLA Bill Boyd is to keep big money out of politics.

The candidate for leader of the Saskatchewan New Democrats announced Friday that he will not accept corporate or union donations during the leadership race, committing to fundraising from individual donors alone.

“The foundation of a healthy democracy is trust. Corruption undermines the confidence of Saskatchewan people in the democratic process,” Meili said in a press release.

“I have heard over and over from Saskatchewan residents that they want to believe their government is working for the wellbeing of the whole province and not just the wealth of their friends.”

The press release said the Sask. Party had accepted more than $3 million in corporate donations since 2006, as well as thousands of dollars from publicly funded sources.

If elected leader, Meili is committing to making changes to the election campaign finance rules one of his biggest priorities.

“People are fed up with business-as-usual politics,” he said.

“Our leadership campaign is about showing that we can do better by modeling the kind of behaviours people are asking for from their representatives. Decisions in a democracy should be guided by the will of the people, not the interests of corporations and a wealthy few.”

Meili’s plan, which, the press release said, would be the first priority of a Meili-led Saskatchewan NDP government, eliminates corporate and union donations, caps personal donations and eliminates donations from public entities such as libraries and universities.

Meili is one of two candidates for leader of the provincial NDP. The other is former interim party leader Trent Wotherspoon.

This will be Meili’s third time running losing to Dwain Lingenfelter in 2009 and Cam Broten in 2013.

Following Broten’s resignation after the provincial election in 2016, Wotherspoon filled his role on an interim basis. He said he wasn’t seeking the job on a permanent basis, but stepped down in June to consider a run. He formally announced his intention in August.

While it looks like it will be a contest between Meili and Wotherspoon, Sarauer seems certain she would not run in the election and said the timing isn’t right for her. She hopes the new leader hears the issues and concerns of Saskatchewan people while holding the Sask. Party accountable for their actions.

“I’m looking for a leader whose going talk to the members and hear what they have to say. We have a very democratic party with quite a few members from all corners of the province,” she said.

“I think our candidates will be working really hard, speaking to as many members as they can, bringing new members into the party, hearing their concerns and thoughts about the future of the province, and party and putting forward their platform ideas and their vision for the future.”

Each contestant must provide a non-refundable registration fee of $4,000 and must limit campaign expenses to $200,000.

A new leader will be elected in Regina on May 6, 2018.

Sask. NDP members will be able to vote online or by mail-in ballot.

— With files from Joshua Santos/Star News Network