Amid months of speculation, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall announced he will be stepping down as Premier and Party Leader. The announcement comes on the heels of a recent SaskParty caucus retreat. Wall will remain Premier until a next Saskatchewan Party leader is chosen.
In the five-minute Facebook post, the Premier noted that despite the current deficit situation, he can be proud of his tenure as leader, leaving behind a solid legacy of population growth, infrastructure building and the advancement of the energy sector.
Saskatchewan’s population grew by 160,000 during Wall’s tenure and 67,000 jobs were created during his time as premier. During the party’s rule, 40 new and replacement schools were opened in the province. Wall had criticized the previous NDP government for its many closures, including 176 schools throughout the province. Wall attributed the province’s growth over the last decade to more aggressive policies surrounding immigration, new legislative policy and lower taxes.
First elected in 1999, Wall has been Leader of the Saskatchewan Party since 2004 and Premier of Saskatchewan since 2007, where since being elected he has remained as Canada’s most popular leader. Without a doubt, this will be a blow to the Saskatchewan Party. Over the past number of years Brad Wall and the Saskatchewan Party have become synonymous. This announcement will also likely result in a complete overhaul of many senior positions within the Saskatchewan Government.
Wall and the Saskatchewan Party defeated the NDP in 2007. Under his leadership, the Sask Party went on to win two more elections in 2011 and most recently in 2016, where the party won 51 of 61 seats with 62 per cent of the popular vote.
In the announcement, the Premier stated, “Together with Tami, I have decided that now is the time for renewal — for my party, for the government, for the province. It’s time for me to retire from politics.”
Wall further commented that, “I believe, though, that to best ensure continued success in that work, Saskatchewan needs renewal, a fresh perspective in leadership.”
The announcement comes in the midst of a tumultuous term due to a slumping economy and highly criticized cuts made in March’s provincial budget.
By announcing his retirement at this time, this allows ample time for a leadership race and enough time for the new leader to establish their identity before the next election. Current legislation has the election occurring no later than November 2, 2020 unless it coincides with the federal election, in which case it would be moved to April 5, 2021.
Wall will remain Leader through the up-coming legislative session and current thought is that the Saskatchewan Party will be holding a Leadership Convention sometime in February.
- No interim leader has been selected at this time.
- Leadership contenders, if Cabinet Ministers, will likely have to resign from their portfolios for the duration of the leadership.
- A SaskParty Convention is scheduled to happen November 3rd – 5th, 2017 at which we expect the candidates to all be declared and in full campaign mode.
- Current speculation has Kevin Doherty, Minister of Finance, Gord Wyant, Minister of Justice, Tina Beaudry-Mellor, Minister of Social Services, Jim Reiter, Minister of Health and Ken Cheveldayoff, Minister of Parks, Culture and Sport as the current MLAs who would be considering a run for the party leadership. Other contenders include Alanna Koch, Deputy Minister to the Premier and Cabinet Secretary.
In a statement released by the Executive Director of Saskatchewan Party yesterday, the Party will now begin organizing a leadership convention and finalizing all leadership campaign rules.
- The Party’s provincial council will meet within 30 days to draft and approve a series of items, including, but not limited to:
- the convention date and location;
- nomination filing fees;
- voting system;
- membership sales deadlines;
- and campaign expense limits.
- The new Leader will be chosen by Saskatchewan Party members in a one-member, one-vote election, as outlined in the party constitution.
- The provincial council will also appoint a Chief Electoral Officer and Leadership Election Organizing Committee to oversee the leadership campaign process.
- Upon approval of the above items by the provincial council, the Saskatchewan Party will publicly release the leadership campaign rules and the name of the Chief Electoral Officer for the leadership campaign.
Statement from Premier Brad Wall
The following is a transcript of his video statement:
This November will mark 10 years since I had the incredible honour of being elected as Premier of this wonderful province that I love. I’ve always thought that the 10 year mark – should I be so fortunate to serve that long – might be the right time to reevaluate.
Together with Tami, I have decided that now is the time for renewal – for my party, for the government, for the province. It’s time for me to retire from politics.
And so I’ve asked the Saskatchewan Party to begin the process of electing a new leader, who will become the next Premier. I’ll continue to serve as Premier until the new leader is chosen.
And until then, there’s still a lot of work to do. And we carry out that work in a Saskatchewan much stronger after a decade of growth.
It’s easy to forget how things were in the province just 10 years ago. Remember the questions we used to ask?
Could our population get over and stay over a million people? Could we put an end to the near certainty that young people would look first to some place outside of Saskatchewan for their future? And why, in a province as blessed with resources and amazing and innovative people as ours, would we have the worst job creation record in all of Canada, as we did just 10 years ago?
Well, we came to office, some said naively, with a vision and a plan for growth, seeking to put an end to these questions, together with you, the people of Saskatchewan.
We set a goal of seeing Saskatchewan grow by 100,000 people in 10 years. Some called that impossible.
Saskatchewan has now grown by 160,000 people during our decade of growth. We are only 40 thousand short of 1.2 million people.
Today, there are over 67,000 more jobs in the province than there were 10 years ago. And instead of the worst job creation record, Saskatchewan has had Canada’s second-best job creation record during our decade of growth.
And we don’t ask those questions anymore.
Growth is the new normal in this province. That is remarkable. The credit goes to you Saskatchewan.
And I think our plan for growth and its specific actions have also helped. Things like new, more aggressive immigration policies, the graduate retention program, our efforts to engage with the world, to tell Saskatchewan’s story, to promote all that we have to offer to a growing world.
Legislative and regulatory improvements to the business climate have helped. Lower income taxes, lower small and large business taxes, lower education property taxes, have all helped create the Saskatchewan advantage, and a decade of growth.
And together, we have invested the dividends of growth to improve the lives of Saskatchewan people.
We have built and repaired a record number of highway kilometres. We have built 40 new and replacement schools and hired 850 more teachers to instruct a growing number of students. We’ve been building long-term care facilities and a new Children’s Hospital, and a new psychiatric hospital.
We have taken the longest surgical wait times in Canada 10 years ago and transformed them into among the shortest in Canada with the help of 750 more doctors, 3,000 more nurses of every designation that have we have hired, and with the help of innovations like private surgical clinics.
And we have remembered those most vulnerable during our decade of growth – doubling supports for people with disabilities, tripling the income assistance program for low income seniors and removing 114,000 low-income people from the tax rolls completely through our income reductions.
We’ve also made mistakes. I have made mistakes. And yes, there is still much to do.
But those fundamental questions about the future viability of the province we all love? After this decade of growth, we don’t ask them anymore.
Saskatchewan is growing and vibrant and strong. And I will be forever grateful that I had the opportunity to play some small part in all of that.
As for today, our plan to get the budget back to balance and to reduce our dependence on resource revenue is on track. Here again we have a foundation upon which to build. Provincial credit ratings are higher than they were when we were elected 10 years ago, there’s less operating debt and we have the second-lowest debt-to-GDP ratio among all the provinces.
This decade of growth truly is a strong foundation upon which to build.
I believe, though, that to best ensure continued success in that work, Saskatchewan needs renewal, a fresh perspective in leadership.
This was such a difficult decision to make. It is hard to lay this duty down, to retire from what has been and what will always be the honour of my working life.
But it is time.
So I leave you with something you will hear me oft repeat in the months ahead and for rest of my life.
Thank you Saskatchewan.