Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall took a step closer to his retirement from provincial politics on December 7, sitting in the Legislative Assembly as Premier for the final time.
The conclusion of the fall legislative session last Thursday marked Wall’s last day as a sitting MLA.
“It was bittersweet last week when I bowed to the Speakers chair and walked out for the last time,” Wall said during a phone interview following the conclusion of the December portion of the legislative session.
Wall sat for five terms as the MLA for Swift Current over 18 years in the legislature, plus guided the Saskatchewan Party to majority government election wins in 2007, 2011 and again in 2016.
“I have been so, so very blessed. I have lived my dream. Things that I dreamed, that probably I didn’t have any right, the job that I currently hold, have come true,” Wall said.
“That’s a pretty special place,” he said of the Legislature. “It was a dream of mine that I could serve in there in anyway, really in any capacity. But to be able to do it for the last 10 years in the job I have now, and in addition to being the MLA for Swift Current, it really is the honour of my working life. It’s the best job I’ll ever have.”
He admittedly likes both the appearance and significance of Saskatchewan’s legislative building.
“I like the Chamber itself. I’ve always liked it. Maybe not Question Period always, at least when you’re on the other side of things.”
“It’s sort of democracy in action. And if you’re a political nerd like I am, I’ve literally had front row seat for almost 20 years. Pretty wonderful.”
Despite a tough provincial budget in the spring, Wall feels he is leaving the province in good shape.
“I would like the budget to be balanced now,” he admitted. “I’ve said that after my last day in the legislature. It’s not. We’re on track to get it balanced through our plan. The budget was tough enough just moving towards a three year balanced budget plan. If we would have moved more dramatically I think that would have been too much shock for the economy, and even public services.”
He takes heart in the fact that Saskatchewan’s operating debt was lowered during Wall’s tenure in office, and the province now boasts Canada’s second best debt to GDP ratio. But he highlighted there is another key measure of Saskatchewan’s fiscal health.
“Very importantly, I think is, for the first time ever we have a triple AAA credit rating. We’ve never had that under any other government. And even after the last budget, and after now going into the fourth year of low commodity prices, which no one forecasted at the start of all this – after all of that we still have a triple AAA credit rating. I feel good about that, but I’d like it to be balanced.”
He reflected that during his near two decades in Regina, there were significant investments in Swift Current and area. There were highway investments along Highway #32 and Highway #4, a major expenditure for the TransCanada highway and #4 exchange, a couple of new schools, plus the P3 project to develop a new long term care facility.
Wall said the provincial government will do some care taking in advance of a Christmas break, followed by the unveiling of some new initiatives in early January.
“There’s some things we’re going to do in January, I think some exciting announcements that are good for the economy. But mostly, for our party certainly, it’s going to be about picking a new leader and that’ll dominate things.”