Deputy minister to Premier – Koch seeks top Sask Party post

Long-time agricultural insider and most recently top civil servant, Alanna Koch wants to be Saskatchewan’s next premier.

She announced her candidacy for the Saskatchewan Party leadership Aug. 28 at a farm south of Regina.

Flanked by her family she told a crowd of supporters, including caucus members Dan D’Autremont and Don McMorris, that she has the depth of experience to lead the province.

“I am a mother. I am a farmer,” she said. “I have stood up for farmers and the agriculture industry and fought for issues that have created jobs and helped Saskatchewan business grow.”

She has been involved in international trade negotiations and been on several trade missions promoting Saskatchewan business and products.

Koch stepped down from her job as deputy minister to premier Brad Wall just hours before announcing her leadership bid. Previously she spent almost nine years as agriculture deputy minister.

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Her agricultural resume includes executive director of the Western Canadian Wheat Growers, board member of Agricore United and president of the Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance.

In 2003, she ran McMorris’s election campaign.

“I’m really glad that she’s taken the step,” McMorris said. “It’s a huge decision for anybody. It’s so valuable for our party.”

Rancher Murray McGillivray said he believes Koch has the ability to lead the province.

“She has a vision for Saskatchewan that’s conducive to all of Saskatchewan — agriculture, oil, potash, everything,” he said. “She also has the ability to listen.”

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Pense farmer Levi Wood said he will personally support Koch but couldn’t say whether the WCWG, which he currently leads, would endorse any candidate.

“We’re obviously encouraging all candidates to approach us,” he said. “From my perspective personally I think more candidates with ag experience is important.”

Koch is the only un-elected candidate to declare so far. Others in the race are Tina Beaudry-Mellor from Regina University, Jeremy Harrison from Meadow Lake, Gordon Wyant from Saskatoon Northwest and Ken Cheveldayoff from Saskatoon Willowgrove.

Scott Moe from Rosthern-Shellbrook resigned from cabinet Aug. 28, and is expected to announce his intentions this week.

Nominations must be filed by Nov. 24 and the winner will be selected by preferential ballot on Jan. 27, 2018. Wall announced in early August he would resign as soon as a new leader is chosen.

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Contact karen.briere@producer.com