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Four veteran Sask Party MLAs speak out on why they are leaving

Cabinet ministers Donna Harpauer, Gord Wyant, Don McMorris and Dustin Duncan all say it’s the right time to leave the Legislature.
The four MLAs not seeking re-election (clockwise): Donna Harpauer, Don McMorris, Gord Wyant and Dustin Duncan.

REGINA - A common reason was given by four departing SaskParty MLAs and cabinet ministers as to why they are not seeking re-election in 2024.

“In my mind it’s time,” said Minister of Finance and Deputy Premier Donna Harpauer, an answer similar to that of the other three MLAs. She is not seeking re-election after 25 years representing Humboldt-Watrous. 

In speaking to reporters Harpauer indicated that she had pondered same decision four years earlier, but there were still issues she still wanted to contribute to and so she ran one more time.

“I actually considered that the last election and chose to do four more years, but at the end of this term it’ll be 25 years. That’s considered a very long political life, and I’m not getting younger. So, it’s time… At some point you have to go.”

She, along with ministers Don McMorris (Government Relations), Dustin Duncan (Crown Investments Corporarion) and Gord Wyant (Advanced Education) confirmed that they will be continuing in their cabinet portfolios and not stepping aside. Harpauer is concentrating on preparing for the 2024 budget to be handed down this spring.

McMorris, who is also leaving after 25 years representing Indian Head-Milestone, also indicated it was the right time for him to leave.

“It’s a tough decision. I think every politician goes through it. I think number one you want to make the decision yourself rather than have the constituents make it for you,” said McMorris.

“But it was definitely time. I was kind of waffling when I literally woke up one morning and said no I can’t commit to four and a half years or five years, and so the decision was really quite simple.”

Another factor was that his Indian Head-Milestone constituency was getting major boundary changes and a name change as of the next election.

“Maybe that’s part of the reason I made my first decision not to run because the name had changed and I couldn’t change it in my head,” said McMorris. “I don’t know if I could ever say White City-Qu’Appelle, even though they’re great communities. It’s always Indian Head-Milestone to me.”

McMorris made it known he had no qualms about the prospect of other people step up to fill the roles of the veteran MLAs who are leaving.

“I’m not concerned, people learn the rules very very quickly,” said McMorris. “That is the tradition of this place, you’re never in one of these offices for a lifetime.”

Duncan, who at 45 is the youngest of the MLAs leaving, said his was a recent decision. He made his final decision after consulting with his family over the holidays.

He said he was still enjoying the work, but "for me it's been 18 years, for my family," said Duncan. "I have a young family at home and these jobs aren't the easiest on family life."

Duncan looks forward to spending more time with his family and said he was able to "check a lot of boxes" in accomplishing things for his Weyburn-Big Muddy his time as an MLA.

“I'm grateful for the opportunity but there comes a time when it's the right thing for you and your family and your constituents as well,” he said.

Wyant: not done with politics yet?

For Wyant, MLA for Saskatoon Northwest, he is wrapping up 14 years in the legislature and 24 in elected office, including with the public school board. Unlike the other three MLAs Wyant planned to run again and had been nominated to run in the renamed Saskatoon Chief Mistawasis, but after a discussion with family and a chance to get away with brief vacation, he came to a different conclusion.

“There’s always opportunity for renewal in a political party and a government, but I think you have to remember there is always time for renewal personally,” said Wyant. 

“We just thought it was time to spend more time in Saskatoon, more time with our family. We think the government is in a great place, the position of the government moving forward, so we thought it was the most appropriate time.  I think renewal in the constituency and renewal for the government and the party.”

He indicated he hadn’t decided what he plans to do after the legislature, but there is speculation Wyant might not be wrapping up his electoral career. Rumours have swirled that he might enter the race to become mayor of Saskatoon.

When asked about the calls for him to enter the race, Wyant said his sole focus right now was on his role as Minister of Advanced Education.

“I understand there is a job that I am not applying for. Not yet,” said Wyant.

As for whether he was flattered by that speculation, Wyant said “it is really flattering, it’s humbling there are people in the city of Saskatoon that think I can do that. I think the City of Saskatoon needs some strong leadership in a very difficult time in the City. And I know that there are people in the city of Saskatoon who have that strength to lead the City of Saskatoon. I can tell you, I was very flattered and humbled to have people reach out to me to suggest that I have the talent to do that.”