Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Leadership Questionnaire: Ryan Meili

Well, the second of our four questionnaires has been returned and is now ready to be published. As always, questions are BOLDED while answers retain their regular formatting.

So, here are the answers from Ryan Meili.

Background/Personal Questions

1.) Let’s start at the beginning; what was it that first drew you to politics and the desire to work in the public sector?

My experiences in practicing medicine with underserved populations led me to recognize that if we want a healthier population, we need to find ways to influence the political decisions that have an impact on people's health.

2.) Did you always know that the NDP was where you belonged, or did you do a lot of soul-searching before committing to joining a party?

I was a community activist before I associated directly with a political party, but through that activism, and my readings on social democracy and social change, it was readily apparent that the NDP was the best vehicle for galvanizing the political will to make the changes we so badly need.

3.) And the big question, what drew you to the leadership race?

Even more than in 2009, there is a need for the NDP to excite and inspire people again, and a need for a new, positive approach to politics to address the greatest challenges of our time. I hope to be a part of bringing new ideas and a fresh approach to the party that will allow us to regain the confidence of the people of Saskatchewan so we can get back to the work of building a healthier society.

4.) What experience do you bring that you think would be a positive boon as the next NDP Leader?

I believe my range of experiences as a frontline clinician, as an author and educator, in the development of successful initiatives such as the Student Wellness Initiative Toward Community Health (SWITCH), Making the Links and the Division of Social Accountability, and in advocacy with organizations such as Canadian Doctors for Medicare, would serve me well as leader. This experience would serve me well in building a team that is more effective in opposition and that governs with vision and a commitment to real improvements in people’s lives.

5.) In 25 years, what do you hope your political legacy to be?

A healthier, more equal Saskatchewan.

6.) If you weren’t in politics, where do you think you may have ended up?

I would continue to work clinically, as a family doctor, in service of underserved populations, while advocating for social justice in various arenas.

7.) What was the biggest learning experience you’ve had in your political career?

The 2009 leadership race was a tremendous learning experience. It really felt like taking an immersion year in Saskatchewan politics, public speaking, policy development and much more. It influenced not only how this campaign is run, but also my clinical, research and advocacy work outside of politics.

Policy/Procedural Questions

1.) If elected leader, you’ll hit the ground running as the new Leader of the Opposition; what three issues are the most important for you to address during your tenure in opposition?

It's essential to point out the failings of the current government in using economic good times to create a more sustainable and just Saskatchewan. However, we can't stop at opposition, we also need to propose viable alternatives. This means presenting a compelling alternative economic plan based on diversification of revenue sources and economic opportunities, using the social determinants of health to guide policy initiatives that would turn that revenue into better outcomes for the people of Saskatchewan, and, internally, building the mechanisms to promote broad-based participation in and renewal of the New Democratic Party.

2.) Would those three issues remain constant if you were elected Premier, or would there be other areas that would demand more attention?

As government, we will have our work cut out to undo the damage our physical and social infrastructure are sustaining as a result of current mismanagement. We’ll need to move quickly to improve our long-term economic health (which is intimately tied to our ecological sustainability), identify and implement high-impact interventions that will address the social determinants of health, and apply what we learned from party renewal towards a process of democratic renewal more broadly.

3.) What do you think is the central message of your candidacy?

Our theme of “Better Together” highlights the fact that all people, regardless of their social position, do better in a more equal society. When we recognize that we're all in this together, and when that recognition of interconnectedness is reflected in party policy, and eventually in public policy, we’ve begun the work of building a healthier society.

4.) What do you plan to change about Saskatchewan’s NDP? And what do you plan to keep the same?

The fundamental principles of the CCF/NDP movement don't need to change. What does need to change is the degree to which we are connected to the social movements that built the party in the first place and sustained it through its most productive periods. What needs to change is the amount of real democratic influence that members have on the party's direction, and the degree to which our actions - both in opposition and in government - reflect those principles.

5.) What one issue do you think is currently being underrepresented or underdeveloped by the current government? How would you change that?

This government is focussed on short-term economic growth, as though the economy existed in a vacuum. Failing to recognize the stresses on infrastructure, the growing inequality, the environmental risks, and the frailty of an economy based in a small number of resource industries represents a failure of vision. We need to be smarter in managing our success to ensure it’s not just a flash in the pan, that we’re building not just for our future but for our children’s future.

6.) Finally, this isn’t a question, but more of a chance to add a personal appeal to those reading this questionnaire; so feel free to make an appeal to members, or just tell us anything else you’d like us to know about you and your campaign.

Together, we have an opportunity to excite and inspire the people of this province, to change the way politics is done. This race is about far more than choosing a leader, it's a time for an important conversation about who we are and where we're headed as a province. I look forward to being a part of rebuilding this party and working towards a healthier Saskatchewan.

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