He’s going to @%$#ing murder me for this.
But I don’t care.
In fact, that’s just one of the reasons Ryan is one of my good friends: he’s super easy to get along with and gets over things quick.
I (to the shock and surprise of many, I’m sure) am not really skilled at either.
Anyway he doesn’t know I’m writing this, honestly.
I’m not asking permission, because a) I never do and b) if I did consult with him, this post wouldn’t be what we all so desperately want in politics today: honest and transparent.
Yes, I have been a paid researcher for NDP Saskatoon-Nutana MLA Cathy Sproule on her overwhelming Opposition critic files (and yes, Sask Party partisans, a healthy and democratic provincial government requires appropriate levels of scrutiny: get over it). But as I write this, I’m in no way working for the NDP party (which is different than working for the Official Opposition) or their election campaign.
Regardless, the Sask Party’s attack ads are getting to me. Every time one of my kids sees one on TV and says “Mom, isn’t that your friend?” I get furious.
“He is,” I tell them. “But that ad is bullshit, and as you know Ryan is awesome and politics can be stupid.”
(Yes, I say “bullshit” in front of my kids, when its clearly applicable and no other word will suffice nearly as succinctly.)
Anyway, apparently in 2017 I was adept at creating Google photo albums, because I had no idea I had these pictures anymore when I stumbled across them this morning (I think they’re leftover from his NDP leadership campaign).
When I saw them, I was like, “man, I wish people could better know THIS Ryan.”
I mean, this is the picture the Sask Party believes should terrify you.
Saskatoon MLA Bronwyn Eyre loooovves to clutch her Wilma Flintsone pearls (which have seemingly been surgically implanted around her neck, because they are ALWAYS ON) over the idea that Meili occasionally rides a longboard.
Probably because one of my oldest childhood friends, today age 45, is a hardcore conservative and Sask Party voter, successful construction contractor, homeowner, father and community volunteer… who still loves taking in punk rock shows, or to kick back and ride his freestyle BMX, showing off the same stunts he’s been perfecting since he was 9.
And I think that scares the Sask Party.
Because like Ryan, lots of us are in our 40s, but we’re not dead. We’re Gen-Xers, who unlike our parents and grandparents when they were our age, don’t feel compelled to look and act like we’re seniors. We realize that one can actually be a grown-ass, successful, professional adult and remain connected to the styles, sports, music and pastimes we grew up with and still love. Fresh air, 90s music and exercise are healthy and normal for lots of us.
Look at it this way – Scott Moe is only 2-years-older than Meili. Maybe no one in the Sask Party should be criticizing how others maneuver their 40s when their leader appears to be counting down the hours til he can collect CPP.
Unless you live under a rock, you know Ryan Meili is a doctor. Just ask him :).
I don’t know if being a schoolteacher, a country-music museum owner or a former Roughrider makes one a better politician. I don’t know if being a doctor does either.
I do know, however, that it does make one a pretty amazing person.
Could you work all day with sick people, often presenting at their worst? Or take it a step further, like Ryan, and focus on working with some of the most difficult cases – the homeless, the impoverished, the addicts?
Yeah that’s a hard no from me. I don’t understand how hairstylists can touch peoples’ hair, never mind the places doctors go.
But I can tell you Ryan genuinely cares about everyone’s wellbeing. For example, he and I used to clash about needle exchange programs and safe-injection sites all the time, until he finally asked me why I was so okay with unsafe-injection sites all over the province, since they’re far more dangerous to and expensive for the rest of us.
That shut me up and changed my mind pretty quick. Some may say (they’re wrong, obviously) that isn’t an easy thing to do. But it did cement my theory that Ryan would be a great premier of Saskatchewan. He often spins his take on how government impacts our daily lives as the metrics of a healthy life (or something like that, I don’t know), but to me it’s just compassion plus common sense: two qualities which, in my mind, embody leadership.
Now let’s focus on the most important part of his life: his partner Mahli is incredible. For starters, she’s an amazing doctor – a pediatrician – tirelessly working her butt off healing our sick kids.
What really blows my mind as well, though, is watching her quietly, skillfully maneuver her family through both the thankless job of Ryan being an Official Opposition leader, but also through the shitshow of Saskatchewan politics. If I get as irritated as I do when my kids see those grainy, fearmongering attack ads, I cannot imagine how she feels.
If you’re sensing a pattern here, you’re not wrong. These are my friends. I appreciate them and enjoy their company quite a lot, and care fiercely about what happens to them.
But I also care about you and this whole beautiful, unique, maddening, best-place-in-the-world province.
There’s a lot of reasons I’ve been frustrated and sad lately about the direction Saskatchewan is headed, but it really bothers me that you might not get to know Ryan like I do, or Scott Moe might convince you not to bother to try. Supressing his opponents is also precisely the reason Moe is breaking the fixed-election-date law, because apparently he thinks, or knows, he can’t win in a fair-play election, or earn an actual mandate for himself from the people of Saskatchewan without breaking the rules.
That’s not going to work, to be clear. Ryan’s ready, so are the people behind him. And thank god for that, because if you think four more years of unfettered power for the Sask Party is good for Saskatchewan, you’re just wrong.
A big, arrogant, long-term government that considers itself untouchable is no good for anyone. So forgive me for being disgusted by Moe’s unabashed bid for absolute power.
Anyway, you have to understand that a lot of people work really hard on an election campaign. There are always tons of opinions on how to package and present a leader to voters. This just happens to be my perspective on what you should also know about Ryan Meili.
While I’m at it, let’s clear up a few other stupid rumours.
Ryan Meili does not support the imposition of the federal carbon tax on Saskatchewan (the imposition, of course, resulting from the failure of the Saskatchewan government to come up with a better idea). He doesn’t support it now – not ever.
The Sask Party are taking a quote, out of context, from an op-ed Meili (before he was elected as NDP leader or as an MLA) co-wrote in 2016 as a doctor with another doctor, to lie to you.
Here’s a more fulsome excerpt from that piece, so you can judge for yourself:
Ryan Meili is not weak. Ever singlehandedly and safely guide a baby into the world? Or when was the last time you tried and very publicly-failed at something big, expensive and important – TWICE – before going after it and succeeding the third time?
Could you then handle being rewarded for that hard-fought win by having to square-off against 50-odd government MLAs hurling personal insults at you and your colleagues, day in and day out, for doing your job (you know, that whole holding government to account thing) without totally losing your shit?
That’s strong as hell, I think. I couldn’t do it.
He holds his ground, changes my mind often – occasionally even allows me to change his. He helps me – convinces me, when necessary – to look at the world a bit more compassionately. And he always does it without drama or yelling (even when I don’t).
In other words, he’s a strong leader.
Ryan Meili does not oppose pipelines or the energy sector. I mean, Meili’s probably not going to go all Jason Kenney up in here, in part because he’s not an idiot, and in part because I think he’d prefer not to be relegated to the Flat-Earther chapter of the history books.
In my opinion, Meili’s opinion on climate change and oil and gas aligns extremely well with the positions of the likes of Shell, BlackRock, BP, and ConocoPhillips: ready to adapt to a world that is changing rapidly because of science and society’s valid and real concerns around climate change.
Regardless of the outcome of the next provincial election, Ryan Meili will be premier of Saskatchewan one day. He just will, because he didn’t come this far to let the likes of Moe take him down. The Saskatchewan NDP will need to stop repeatedly punching itself in the face and stick by their leader this time, no matter what the outcome of the next vote, though I’m quite confident it’s not going to go nearly as well for Moe as he thinks it will. Just ask any of the urban MLAs he’s sacrificing on the alter of his own personal political fortunes.
And now I’m rambling, which is my cue to stop writing. I hope that, like me, you’ll see that Saskatchewan can and will be better, but it needs more at the top than a leader who only knows how to pick fights and work himself up to nearly hysterical levels of hyperbole when he doesn’t win them.
So please, as we move into this season of provincial election discontent – whether next month or next fall – keep your mind open. Realize that in this day and age of fake news and a boldfaced-liar of a US president, you need to do your own research.
And please, no matter who you vote for, exercise your democratic right at the ballot box on the date Scott Moe finally gets around to sharing with us.
I’m Tammy Robert. I’m a writer, but pay the bills consulting in political strategy, media and public relations. Feel free to email me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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