The second of my two lives in Saskatchewan ran from 2006 to 2012, and Brad Wall was the Premier for most of that time. By the time he rides off into the sunset in the fall, he will have been in the Premier’s office for almost a decade. His story only reinforces a very important cautionary tale about political life anywhere, but especially in Canada.
The lesson, sooner or later you will wear out your welcome. Brad is one of the fortunate few who will get to leave on his own terms, rather than being shown the door by the unforgiving voters. Timing is everything in politics, and so is luck. Wall had both on his side in 2007.
The Saskatchewan NDP had definitely worn out their welcome, first under Roy Romanow, then Lorne Calvert. A variety of natural resources were on the rise in 2007, particularly oil and potash. It resulted from a variety of global factors, most of which had virtually nothing to do with who ran things at the legislature in Regina. In fact, Wall himself admitted that his government watched the provincial treasury fill up nicely, thanks in large part to a royalty structure that was put in place by Mr. Calvert, his NDP predecessor.
With a population of barely a million people, provinces like Saskatchewan are doomed to rise and fall with world commodity markets. Beginning with Peter Lougheed next door in Alberta in the early 1970’s, we have seen many prairie governments that have experienced fleeting wealth from resources, promise resolutely that some of that wealth will be used to diversify the economy. But it never seems to happen and history repeats itself.
Brad Wall has been better than average when it comes to leadership ability, but he has failed miserably in one test that really mattered. The Roughriders are playing in a beautiful new stadium, but that long-awaited children’s hospital is still not open in Saskatoon.
Shame on you Mr. Premier.
I’m Roger Currie