REGINA - The Saskatchewan Party has confirmed that four of its most prominent senior cabinet ministers are not seeking re-election.
Deputy Premier and Minister of Finance Donna Harpauer (Humboldt-Watrous), Minister for Crown Investments Corporation Dustin Duncan (Weyburn-Big Muddy), Minister of Advanced Education Gord Wyant (Saskatoon Northwest) and Minister of Government Relations Don McMorris (Indian Head-Milestone) are not running again, it was confirmed in a SaskParty news release Tuesday.
All four have been part of the SaskParty government for over a decade or more. Harpauer and McMorris were first elected in 1999. Duncan was first elected in a 2006 by-election and Wyant was first elected in a by-election in 2010.
In a statement, Premier Scott Moe said “that’s over 80 years of combined political experience and service to the people of Saskatchewan, and that’s not easy to replace.
“But at the same time, every government and every party needs renewal, and I respect the decision that Donna, Don, Dustin, and Gord, all made – that it’s time for renewal in their constituencies and for a new chapter in each of their lives.
“I want to thank Donna, Don, Dustin, and Gord for their service and commitment to their constituents and our province, for all the hard work, and for their friendship.”
There had been some speculation this year about the future of the four MLAs. Harpauer, McMorris and Duncan were among the SaskParty MLAs who had yet to be officially nominated. Duncan himself had indicated in an interview with SASKTODAY.ca late last year that he had not made a final decision.
In Wyant's case, he had been nominated to run again in Saskatoon Chief Mistawasis, but has reversed that decision with this latest announcement. There is already speculation online that Wyant might run for mayor of Saskatoon, on the heels of Mayor Charlie Clark's recent announcement that he is not seeking re-election, but there has been no indication yet about Wyant's future plans.
There are also indications that one of the Sask Party cabinet ministers who has yet to be officially nominated, Minister of Parks, Culture and Sport Laura Ross, plans to seek re-election again in Regina Rochdale. That nomination meeting is scheduled for later this month.
The four latest departing MLAs join two other former prominent ministers who are not running again: Don Morgan (Saskatoon Southeast) and Dana Skoropad (Arm River), who left cabinet last year after they had announced their retirements from politics.
The Sask Party is also losing some other longtime veteran MLAs including Greg Ottenbreit (Yorkton), who had also served in cabinet at one point and is now the government Whip; Fred Bradshaw (Carrot River Valley) who briefly was in cabinet as Minister of Highways; and other longtime incumbents including Terry Dennis (Canora-Pelly) and Speaker Randy Weekes (Biggar-Saskatchewan Valley) who both lost their re-nomination fights.
In all, a total of 14 Sask Party MLAs are not running again, counting the two incumbents defeated for re-nomination as well as two MLAs who have been removed from caucus due to criminal charges (Ryan Domotor and Greg Lawrence) and are now independents.
Departing MLAs held major roles in government
The latest group of departing ministers have held some of the most prominent roles in the Sask Party government since it came to office in 2007 under Premier Brad Wall. Three of the MLAs -- Harpauer, Wyant and McMorris -- had at various points held the role of Deputy Premier. Also notable, three of the ministers -- Harpauer, Wyant and Duncan -- each held the Education portfolio at one point during their time in cabinet.
Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation President Samantha Becotte has issued a statement thanking the four ministers for their service.
“Although there have been significant disagreements between teachers and government, we thank them for their public service and contributions to the democratic process. Teachers are hopeful that this changing of the guard will provide the Saskatchewan Party government with a more enlightened approach to both student needs and collective bargaining with teachers. As the Premier will now have a collection of novice MLAs and cabinet ministers, he should be motivated to bargain a truly fair deal with teachers that addresses the crisis in public education, including meeting students’ needs.”