Assessing future premiers

With slightly more than 27,125 members, the Saskatchewan Party has increased its membership dramatically ahead of its leadership vote later this month.

And why not: those members are electing Saskatchewan’s next premier and setting a course of direction for the government that will last a couple of years until the next provincial election and possibly beyond.

Agriculture platforms for each of the candidates have developed, or emerged, rapidly over the past month and half.

While no one in this race in Canada’s most agriculturally focused province would fail to have a position or plan for agriculture, it would appear a couple of the candidates likely have an edge over others.

Alanna Koch is a farmer and, with a short run as the right hand to Premier Brad Wall last year, has been in agriculture her entire career, the past nine years in Saskatchewan’s agricultural bureaucracy, including deputy minister of the department.

Before that, she worked in leadership roles of organizations such as the Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association.

Ken Cheveldayoff worked for Western Economic Diversification before getting into politics in 2002, where he has remained an MLA in Saskatoon’s Willowgrove constituency. With several cabinet roles, his environment portfolio is the closest to agriculture that he has come.

Scott Moe, with two terms under his belt as a rural MLA, has an agricultural degree and was the minister for the environment who brought in the most recent rural drainage legislation.

Interestingly, the person with the strongest urban background, it could be argued, has attracted the support and advice of two of provincial agriculture’s most respected individuals: current Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart and former minister and retired MLA Bob Bjornerud.

Gord Wyant’s intentions are focused on land use, access and the rights of farmers to farm, drainage, infrastructure development and transportation, largely related to the railways.

Over in the NDP camp, Trent Wotherspoon and Ryan Meili are fighting it out for opposition leader and potentially premier at some point. Meili, a family physician from a farm near Moose Jaw, and Wotherspoon have rural plans, but Meili’s are spelled out as a platform that includes dropping the PST on insurance.



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