REGINA - Wednesday was a momentous day at the Saskatchewan Legislature as former Premier Brad Wall returned for the unveiling of his official portrait.
The portrait was unveiled at a ceremony in the afternoon following the day’s sitting. It was painted by Phil Richards, the artist who had painted the Diamond Jubilee portrait of Queen Elizabeth II that currently is on display at Government House. He also painted the portrait of former Lieutenant Governor Vaughn Solomon Schofield that was unveiled earlier this year.
Wall selected Richards after seeing what he had done with an official portrait of former Premier Bob Rae of Ontario. In speaking to reporters Wall described the process of working with Richards.
“He was really good to work with. He really wanted to find out these little things that he thought should be hidden in the painting,” said Wall. Those included a photo of his wife Tami located behind his desk, as well as of a model '67 Dodge Charger.
Wall described the great lengths Richards would go to plan out the painting.
“He wanted to get that angle right, so I remember I was kind of worried for Phil because he had ladders and he was climbing up and was taking camera shots as well, but shots from above and kind of hanging off of that…I thought we had a potential lawsuit of Occupational Health and Safety issues in the Premier’s office.”
The portrait was painted very early during Wall’s first term as Premier, an office he held from 2007 until he retired from politics in 2018.
It will now hang permanently in the Saskatchewan Gallery inside the legislature, alongside those of the other previous Saskatchewan Premiers.
Prior to the ceremony Wall also attended Question Period of the legislature, where more tributes were paid to him by Premier Scott Moe. Moe's remarks are from Hansard.
“… Mr. Speaker, Brad had a clear vision for the province when he was elected premier late in 2007. He believed that we were only scratching the surface of Saskatchewan’s enormous potential, and that has proved to be true. He was certain Saskatchewan could become an economic leader, a place of opportunity particularly for our young people that were coming, Mr. Speaker, but that already resided here. And more than that, he believed that our province could serve as a beacon of hope for people from around the world to move to this place.
"Mr. Speaker, in many ways Brad Wall’s vision has been realized in this province that we all love. Under Brad Wall’s leadership in Saskatchewan, we’ve seen our population soar by more than 160,000 people. During his time as leader since 2007, investment has flowed into the province like it has never before, responding to a competitive business environment put in place, I would say, under this gentleman’s government.”
Wall referred to the population issue and his government's efforts in that regard when speaking to reporters about what he hoped people would think of when seeing his portrait in the Legislature.
“I hope they remember leadership that had this unequivocal and unshakable belief in the province, that we could grow.”
Beck responds to questions on Sask. First Act
Meanwhile, there was plenty of other business at the legislature to deal with. Questions were still being asked of the NDP for their vote in favor of the Saskatchewan First Act second reading on Monday night. Six NDP MLAs had voted in favor, much to the surprise of opponents of the legislation who made their displeasure known on social media.
Opposition Leader Carla Beck repeated to reporters what other New Democrats had stated previously: that they wanted to ask questions in committee.
“We are very anxious to have that bill in committee,” Beck said, noting that during second reading they are not able to ask questions of the government. In committee, she said, they are able to “question officials and talk about the consultation behind the bill,” and also make amendments.
“There will be more answers, we hope, coming from the government in committee. At this point we look forward to that time in committee.”