He remains the country’s most popular premier and for many in Saskatchewan, the love affair with Brad Wall will never truly be over.
The premier announced his plans to resign in a video posted to social media Thursday morning.
“This November will mark 10 years since I had the incredible honour of being elected as premier of this wonderful province that I love,” he said.
“I’ve always thought that the 10-year mark – should I be so fortunate to serve that long – might be the right time to re-evaluate.”
Following the announcement, people across the province and from elsewhere in Canada sent their regards to the premier via social media. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also joined others in the political world in bidding Wall farewell.
In an exclusive interview with Gormley about an hour after his announcement, Wall said he’d talked the decision over for some time with his wife, Tami.
“I had basically decided I wouldn’t be running for re-election in Swift Current, so then it was just trying to pick the right time for the government and the province and the party – and for us, for the family,” he said. “So for those reasons, I think it’s time.”
With some critics already blasting his departure as a retreat from an austerity budget announced in March, Wall said he’s leaving his party and the province in a position of strength.
“The province is stronger now; we’re starting to see signs of recovery in the economy. (Regarding) finances, we’re actually on track – maybe even a tiny bit ahead – with our plan to get back to balance,” he said, pointing to Sask. Party polling and research showing the ruling party still holding a lead.
The premier said the timing of his decision was meant to give his replacement a chance to work with people in the province and across Canada.
“It gives the next person – the next leader and premier – the chance to connect with people,” Wall noted, adding the next provincial election is more than three years away.
“Maybe make a few changes to renew the party and the government, and I think more time for that is better than not.”
The premier will be staying on until a new leader is selected. He told Gormley the party will likely make the pick in December or January.
Wall said he hopes the new leader will be part of the budget finalization process in February, and that the race brings out the best candidates.
“I hope that it is a robust campaign. I hope we have women and men from within the caucus, from outside perhaps, running,” he said.
The Sask. Party will still have to navigate the upcoming fall session of the legislature before a new leader is chosen – which Wall said will require hard work.
“We need to continue on the three-year plan we have to get the budget back to balance,” he stressed.
On the topic of legacy, Wall touted – among a long list of accolades – the party’s work to grow the province’s economy and population.
“The surest way that that is the legacy … of this time in Saskatchewan, will be the NDP staying in opposition,” he said.
Wall went on to take a dig at the provincial New Democrats, suggesting his departure might leave them in the lurch in their campaign against the March budget.
“The NDP, in concert with the unions, made a huge tactical mistake … they bought a million dollars’ worth of ads – and we’ve all heard them – and almost all of them reference me and attack me,” he said.
“We’re going to have a new leader, renewal and I think they’re going to find it very difficult after they’ve spent all their money attacking me and in five months I will not be there.”
As for what’s next, the premier told Gormley he didn’t have any prospects yet – to which the radio host had a proposition.
“I could certainly use a kick-ass co-host,” Gormely joked. “Then you could kind of phase me out because you’re much younger than I am, of course.”
The premier ended his interview on Gormley teasing one last “Ask the Premier” segment, a long-running spot on the province-wide radio show, before he officially steps down.