Brad Wall- Premier of Saskatchewan 2007-2018
I remember where I was when I found out Premier Brad Wall had announced he was resigning. I was in a plane on the tarmac in San Francisco and my oldest son texted me. I was both shocked and surprised. Surprised, that I was shocked and I am sure many folks around the Province had a similar experience. It goes to show what an impact this man had on our Province.
Wall became Premier in 2007 and for 10 years oversaw a radical change in the very fabric of of Saskatchewan. Sure, we were in the midst of a commodity boom and there are those that say he got lucky, which couldn't be further from the truth. The commodity boom had been underway for 5 years prior and we weren't participating under the likeable but ineffective NDP Premier Lorne Calvert. We weren't participating, just like we never participated in the commodity boom of the 1970's when NDP Premier Alan Blakeney was trying to finish off Tommy Douglas's dream of a socialist utopia.
Under Wall our province flourished both economically and more importantly, psychologically. Our abundance of natural resources combined with an open for business government, and a work force of people known for their hard work and ingenuity mixed with Wall's vision and charisma was the perfect cocktail for success.
Wall gave Saskatchewan people a swagger such as never before. Our little Province was no longer exporting our children, rather, our largest city, Saskatoon, became Canada's youngest city per capita. People were prospering financially and our population grew to it's highest level since 1920. Just like Tommy Douglas, Brad Wall was the right man, at the right place at the right time.
Wall was energetic, magnetic and tenacious. He possessed an amazing presence and was a great orator. He was Canada's most recognized and respected Premier and he represented our province very well both Nationally and Internationally.
Yet with all his capitalistic zeal I actually had to pull over on the side of the road one afternoon in the fall of 2010 when I heard him talking on the radio. Wall was at his finest as he reassured the people of Saskatchewan that he would do everything in his power to keep international interests from buying up our beloved Potash Corp (PCS). The local radio talk show had been lit up for days as people were calling in angry that an Australian company named BHP Billiton was making a bid to takeover the "publicly traded" PCS. Yes, people of Saskatchewan love their Crown Corporations and many people were appalled at the idea that PCS would be allowed to fall into the hands of foreign interests. The trouble was that PCS had not been owned by the residents of Saskatchewan since 1989 when it was privatized and started trading publicly. He might as well have been saying, "We will stop the greedy capitalists from stealing our resources and I will not sleep until I see this is stopped".
It was that day when I couldn't believe how much he sounded like recordings I have heard of Tommy Douglas. Even the pitch of his voice changed, it was higher and evangelical, much like Douglas. Here he was, fighting the very capital markets that had burst Saskatchewan out of a 75-year recession and was the backbone of his success as a Premier. One has to laugh at the irony but he did have an election coming up in a year and the last thing he needed was to spend time explaining what happened was capital markets functioning normally. He had to call in a favour from another free market man, the Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, to block the deal.
It got me thinking about the similarities of these two men, two men that I believe have had the biggest impact as Premier's of the Province. That said, the two men couldn't be more diverse ideologically. Douglas was a socialist at heart and Wall a capitalist. Wall was only Premier for 10 1/2 years while Douglas held power for 17 1/2 years.
In my opinion, Wall's greatest speech was when he first became Premier, when he said, "Hope beats fear". Those words are still true today. It is why that Sask Party has attracted the one time base of the NDP, farmers and labourers and he has the NDP to thank for that gift.
However, both men were/are strong Christians, both wore glasses and were shorter in height. Both were great orators and could hold an audience in their hands wanting more. They were charismatic and had amazing energy. Both of them liked telling stories of mice. Neither of them was ever defeated in an election as Premier. But, as I mentioned in my previous blog about Douglas, the best attribute was their absolute passion for the greatest Province in Canada!
In love of this great Province we call Saskatchewan,