Welcome once again to THE CAIRNS BLOG's live continuing coverage of Canadian politics! Today, I'm liveblogging the Saskatchewan NDP Leadership Convention.
Except -- I'm not there. I guess I could have gone down there to Regina, but I finally decided that I needed the weekend off more than I needed to hang out with more politicians. Besides, I've been to enough conventions and the NDP are known for leadership races that are the least fun of all of them -- although the Saskatchewan NDP conventions tend to be a bit more lively than the rest of the country, given that Saskatchewan is the birthplace of democratic socialism and on and on.
Finding information on the leadership vote has been tough. There's live coverage on CKOM/CJME radio in Saskatchewan and the NDP are streaming the vote live at the NDP website. But beyond a few NDP blogs like this one, that's about it.
I gotta say -- WHERE is the MEDIA?! I know the NDP are in opposition, but you would expect more of these media organizations to show up. I guess I should blame myself, too, though, because I didn't bother to show up, but then again I don't live in Regina.
At least I'm blogging about it here, which is more than you can say for the rest of the media. I can't believe that the people you would expect to be there -- the CBC, CTV, the papers -- aren't covering this in more depth. The only mainstream guys really going all-out are the guys at CKOM and CJME. I mean, come on guys -- do something for the political junkies in the audience and provide some coverage of this thing. No wonder the media is in the sink if no one will bother to cover the news!
It couild be that the media thinks this is a one-horse race and that Dwain Lingenfelter has it all wrapped up. He seems to have a big lead over Deb Higgins, Ryan Meili and Yens Pedersen for the first ballot. A few people are predicting he'll win on this first ballot coming up, but he had baggage. Among other things he is on the right of the party and could fall victim to a gang-up by supporters of the other three if there are multiple ballots today.
The big problem for Lingenfelter is that some over-enthusiastic Lingenfelter campaign worker signed up 1100 NDP memberships up north without the knowledge or consent of any of the people he signed up. Man, you'd think the NDP has turned into the Conservative or Liberal party with this sort of thing happening. You expect this kind of stuff to happen in those parties -- not the NDP.
The memberships ended up being thrown out by the party and a big report was written up on the whole issue by a guy I knew from university years ago, Swift Current lawyer Robert Hale. Except when I knew him back in school he was known as Bob Hale. I don't know where along the way he stopped being Bob Hale and became Robert Hale, but in any event Robert Hale has his 15 minutes of fame, writing up this big report on this Lingenfelter membership nonsense.
Another odd thing is that a lot of the votes were already cast before the convention speeches even happened today, so that makes for a really bizarre convention because in a lot of ways the die has been cast regardless of what is going on on the floor. So it's an odd sort of convention, but this is the way a lot of these parties are going with leadership votes in this country. The Ontario PCs are basically going to do the same thing with their vote.
I'll update this post as I get more information as the balloting goes on. Voting has now closed and results are expected for the first ballot very soon. In the meantime, here's the video of the convention as it is happening.
UPDATE: First ballot results are in and Dwain Lingenfelter has the lead with 46 percent of the vote, with Ryan Meili second. Kind of a shocker in that Deb Higgins placed last, but that's politics. In any event, it's on to the second ballot and we'll see what happens. If Lingenfelter doesn't win on the next ballot all bets are off.
ANOTHER UPDATE (1:25): Yens Pedersen is at the podium now and he's decided to withdraw from the race. It will be Meili vs. Pedersen for all the marbles on the next ballot.
THIRD UPDATE (1:31): CKOM is talking to Pedersen and he is endorsing Meili on the second ballot.
The actual first ballot results, by the way, ended up being Lingenfelter 4360, Meili 2401, Pedersen 1380 and Higgins 1303.
FOURTH UPDATE: (1:41): Wow, the gangup is on. Deb Higgins just declared for Meili and is sitting down talking to John Gormley and everyone else on the radio explaining her choice. This second ballot is going to be pretty interesting.
Second ballot voting begins in a couple of minutes.
FIFTH UPDATE: I'm going to hit the road pretty soon, so you'll probably have to click here to find out who won. I'll have a further update here, later.
SIXTH UPDATE: Uh, I'm finally back. Lingenfelter won on the second ballot with 55 percent of the vote. Can't say I was surprised.