Tears, trib­utes as Wall leaves leg­is­la­ture

Waterloo Region Record - - LOCAL -

REGINA — There were tears and trib­utes as Brad Wall bid farewell to the Saskatchewan leg­is­la­ture Thurs­day af­ter a decade in the pre­mier’s of­fice.

Wall gave his fi­nal speech to the house af­ter an hour of mem­o­ries and praise shared by col­leagues and op­po­nents alike.

Wall is re­tir­ing next month af­ter hold­ing the Swift Cur­rent seat for the Saskatchewan Party for al­most 20 years.

He told the leg­is­la­ture he never lost a feel­ing of awe when he walked through the front doors of the leg­is­la­ture to rep­re­sent his com­mu­nity.

“I have been hum­bled and blessed with the hon­our of my work­ing life,” Wall told his col­leagues and many guests sit­ting in the leg­is­la­ture gallery.

He said the names on the doors of min­istry of­fices change, but the in­sti­tu­tion of democ­racy will re­main.

Wall, say­ing he be­lieved re­newal would be good for the Saskatchewan Party and the prov­ince, an­nounced in Au­gust that he was re­tir­ing. He is stay­ing on as pre­mier un­til his suc­ces­sor as leader is cho­sen Jan. 27.

He was first elected as a mem­ber of the leg­is­la­ture in 1999 un­der the ban­ner of the newly formed party and made a suc­cess­ful bid for the top job af­ter the party lost a 2003 elec­tion many felt it should have won.

He would go on to lead the party to three con­sec­u­tive vic­to­ries, start­ing in 2007, and most re­cently in 2016 by win­ning 51 of 61 seats.

The party, which formed 20 years ago out of an al­liance of dis­af­fected Tories and Lib­er­als, took more than 50 per cent of the pop­u­lar vote in each of the con­tests.

Over the years he be­came one of Canada’s most high-pro­file pre­miers. He rose to na­tional promi­nence for his down-toearth style, sharp wit and, more re­cently, his will­ing­ness to lock horns with Ot­tawa.

Wall, 52, rou­tinely placed high in opin­ion polls rank­ing the coun­try’s most pop­u­lar pre­miers. But he faced head­winds in re­cent months, es­pe­cially af­ter his gov­ern­ment tabled an aus­ter­ity bud­get last spring.

In May, a poll sug­gested Wall’s party had dropped steeply in voter sup­port and had fallen nine points be­hind the lead­er­less op­po­si­tion New Democrats.

With trou­ble at home, Wall trained his po­lit­i­cal guns afar. He railed against op­po­si­tion to pipe­line projects and crit­i­cized Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau over the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s plan to force prov­inces to put a price on car­bon.

Wall told the house Thurs­day that there is a sign hang­ing above the door of the cabi­net room which asks: “Did you leave things bet­ter than you found them?”

He pointed to new schools, new hos­pi­tals, the hir­ing of more nurses and the wel­come given to new­com­ers to the prov­ince dur­ing his ten­ure.

“Things are bet­ter than when we found them,” Wall said. “There is still more work to be done.”

THE CANA­DIAN PRESS FILE PHOTO

Saskatchewan Pre­mier Brad Wall is re­tir­ing next month af­ter hold­ing the Swift Cur­rent seat for the Saskatchewan Party for al­most 20 years.

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