The Saskatchewan New Democrats have elected Carla Beck as their new leader.
The MLA for Regina Lakeview beat Saskatoon-based lawyer Kaitlyn Harvey.
Beck received 3,244 votes to Harvey’s 1,492.
“It’s exciting,” Beck said when reacting to her win. “I’m not someone who ever takes anything for granted, so I was doing the math pretty carefully when those results came up. I’m excited and very eager to do the work that is in front of us and so thankful for the team that we’ve got around us.”
Beck also becomes the first woman to lead a party in Saskatchewan in 90 years with the win.
“When I really feel that is when I look at my Grandma. Not something I’m sure she thought she would see in her lifetime. I look at my daughters; some of the messages we’ve had come in from young women and women who have been around politics for a long-time. It’s special; it’s an honour.”
With the win wrapped up, Beck said there was no rest for her.
“A lot of outreach ahead of us,” she said. “That was a real focus during this campaign was that outreach building talking to people right across the province, and that’s not going to stop; that’s going to intensify now.”
Beck replaces Ryan Meili as the Offical Leader of the Opposition after he won the position in 2018 but resigned in February to allow the party to rebrand.
As for the outgoing leader, Ryan Meili said that it’s important that Beck connects with people.
“She really has that emotional intelligence and what my hope is for the party is that we are able to get as many people to have exposure to an experience with Carla Beck,” he said. “When you have a conversation with her, you always go away feeling heard and understood.”
Meili also called for unity as he noted some conflicts within the party have led to problems.
“This is something that has been a problem for the Saskatchewan NDP, and I know it’s a problem within political parties all the time, but it’s really something that we cannot continue to deal with,” he stated. “We are a party that has gone through multiple leadership races in a short period of time, and we’ve had a hard time coming out of that leadership and fully leaving the past conflicts and competitions behind.”
“My call for the members was whether they supported Kaitlyn and were disappointed with the outcome or they supported Carla and are excited about it, but to see themselves as part of one party and ready to work together and support the new leader and bring in the supporters of her opponent and make sure they are welcome as well.”
With Meil’s time as leader officially wrapped up, he said he had mixed feelings about leaving.
“I had a lot of really nice conversations with people. Some thanks, some hugs. People that I have gotten to know really well, and I absolutely will be leaving a big piece of my heart in this role and with this team.”
As for what’s next, Meili said that he plans to help the NDP replace the Saskatoon-Mewasin seat. Then he plans to spend time with his family, practice medicine, and continue to be an advocate for health.