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Ray Orb not running again for SARM President in 2025

New president to be chosen next year as Ray Orb announces intentions to step aside.
SARM President Ray Orb speaks to reporters about his plans not to seek re-election in 2025.

REGINA - The current President of SARM confirmed to reporters at the convention this week that he is not intending to seek re-election.

Ray Orb says he will not be running again for President when his current two year term comes up in 2025. It means a new President will take the helm, and the election process for that will start with a notice for nominations in January, with the nominees to go on the ballot at the election at the March 2025 convention. All nominees for President must be elected officials in a rural municipality, and he expressed confidence they will find a new President from their current elected officials.

“I’m just going to slow down a little bit,” said Orb in speaking to reporters Friday morning. “It’s like going from 600 miles an hour to 60 km an hour sometimes, just to slow down a bit.”

He and his wife Val Orb, who is mayor of Cupar, have a home in Cupar but also have a seasonal campsite along Lake Diefenbaker at Elbow, and he said they plan to spend more time there. “We like to be out there on the weekends in the summertime. Later on, as time permits, I’ll be able to get out there more and enjoy that. It’s a quieter lifestyle.”

Orb says he has “no ambitions” for any other office. In the meantime, Orb plans to finish out his term. “I’ve got to stick around as long as I can,” he said.

Orb indicated he was happy with his accomplishments with SARM.

“Yeah, been a lot of changes. I was elected on the SARM board in 2004 and president in 2015. You know what, Saskatchewan has changed, rural Saskatchewan has changed a lot — SARM has changed a lot, too. We started out with nine employees, and now we have well over 30 employees and we hire outside corporations, companies, to help us as well. So we have a pretty large base out there, we provide a lot of programs that are really good for our members, but we do a lot of lobbying. I think a lot of our work is lobby as well as providing services and that goes towards federal lobby and provincial lobby, too. So it’s a busy time, but you know what, it’s enjoyable too.”

Orb pleased with how convention went

The SARM convention wrapped up Friday at REAL District in Regina after three days of activity, including speeches from Premier Scott Moe and Opposition Leader Carla Beck. Orb said he was pleased with how this convention unfolded and with some of the policies put forward this week.

“Some of the SARM agenda, of course, is directed from a policy that’s actually produced at the convention," said Orb, pointing to the direction given by members in voting during the resolution session on Thursday. "We had many resolutions that were passed, good resolutions, so it gives us perhaps some new policy to follow up on.”

Orb said he was also pleased with the bearpit session with cabinet ministers on Thursday, saying there were “pretty honest questions and answers there." He noted frustrations expressed from delegates there about health care, as well as environmental red-tape.

“Some of the programs that we do in this province, such as road and bridge construction, the criteria is dictated in some respects by the federal government — species at risk, things like that. It seems like it’s been onerous and many of our members have been complaining about that; why can’t it be a simpler process. We care about the environment, but when it holds up projects sometimes for a long time, it’s very costly, and time delays are something we don’t appreciate.”

One of the more controversial resolutions passed on Thursday was one where delegates voted 95 percent for a resolution that called for SARM to ensure that any policy that unduly targets naturally occurring CO2 will be deemed as illogical and dangerous; the resolution also called for Saskatchewan to remove itself from any national or international agreements that reference net zero.

When asked by reporters about it Thursday, Orb said it went back to the net zero policy the federal government had imposed on Saskatchewan. 

“Our members aren’t happy about that because our members don’t believe that this is actually a problem and they’re asking us to lobby the province to be able to look at perhaps reneging on this promise,” said Orb.