Ryan Meili (born April 11, 1975) is a Canadian physician and politician from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. He is currently the MLA for Saskatoon Meewasin and leader of the Saskatchewan New Democratic Party. He was a candidate for the leadership of the Saskatchewan New Democratic Party in 2009 and 2013, placing second both times, and was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan in a by-election on March 2, 2017.
Meili lives in Saskatoon’s core community of Riversdale. Prior to his election to the legislature he was a family physician at WestSide Community Clinic and Student Wellness Initiative Toward Community Health (SWITCH).
Early life and education
Meili was born in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan and grew up on a family farm near Courval, Saskatchewan. He attended Vanier Collegiate in Moose Jaw before going on to the University of Saskatchewan where he studied Human Anatomy and Languages.
After finishing his first degree, Meili's first attempt to attend medical school was rejected. He then travelled to South America for five months and experienced life in the developing world. In 1999 he co-organized a project called Limbs and Light for Latin America which raised money to purchase a school bus which they then filled with prosthetic limbs for landmine victims and drove to Nicaragua.
Meili entered the College of Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan in September 2000 and graduated in 2004. He completed his residency at the Westwinds Primary Health Centre in Saskatoon in June 2007. In 2012 he published "A Healthy Society: how a focus on health can revive Canadian democracy."
In 2001, Meili was arrested during a peaceful protest at the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City. He received an absolute discharge and the conviction was erased after one year.
Saskatchewan NDP leadership bids
Meili entered the race for the leadership of Saskatchewan's NDP party on February 5, 2009. He was the fourth and final declared candidate joining former Deputy Premier Dwain Lingenfelter; MLA Deb Higgins and former party president, Yens Pedersen. Meili ran on a platform of party renewal: "Meili said he hopes his entry into the race helps revive the NDP. 'If the NDP is allowed to die, only to be resuscitated every 20 years . . . then we’re not building a healthy society." His policies placed him in the progressive wing of the party. As part of his campaign, Meili released a series of professionally produced campaign videos and announced a week-long "money bomb" which was the first of its kind in Canadian politics. Meili placed second to Lingenfelter, with 45% of the vote on the second ballot.
On September 14, 2012, Meili announced that he would once again be seeking the leadership of the Saskatchewan NDP. Three other candidates entered the leadership race: Cam Broten, economist Erin Weir and MLA Trent Wotherspoon. On February 20, 2013, Weir dropped his bid for the leadership and announced he would support Meili. Meili again placed second, losing by just 44 votes on the second ballot.
In May 2017, Meili announced that for a third time he would seek the leadership of the Saskatchewan NDP. On March 3, 2018, he was elected party leader with 55% of the vote, defeating the only other candidate, fellow MLA and 2013 leadership contestant Trent Wotherspoon. Meili became the 7th leader in the party's history and the first medical doctor to hold the position.
Other political bids
Meili initially sought the NDP nomination for Saskatoon Sutherland prior to the 2011 provincial election but later withdrew. He also considered running as a federal NDP candidate for the riding of Saskatoon West in 2015, but decided not to. Meili announced his intention to seek the NDP nomination for a by-election to be held in Saskatoon Meewasin in 2017. The seat became vacant after the death of Roger Parent on November 29, 2016. The party chose Meili as their candidate on January 24, 2017. Meili won the election with over 54% of the vote.
- 2007 - named Saskatoon’s Global Citizen of the Year by the Saskatchewan Council for International Cooperation
- 2006 - Saskatchewan Health Care Excellence Award
- A Healthy Society: How a Focus on Health can Revive Canadian Democracy