I was born and raised in Saskatoon. I was the first born Canadian member of my family after my parents and three brothers emigrated to Saskatchewan in 1953.
What’s a little known fact about you?
I like to write although it’s a pleasure I haven’t had much time to enjoy lately. I won the Sterling Writing Award in 1999.
Why should voters hire you?
Voters should hire me because Saskatchewan people deserve a leader who is prepared to work hard every day to meet their high expectations – a leader with the energy, skills, experience, and integrity that Saskatchewan people rightfully demand. I want to lead a strong government that meets those high expectations. I will continue to champion Saskatchewan’s diverse and growing economy, and I will also address emerging issues that need attention, like improving mental health and addictions services, ensuring education resources go directly into the classroom, and enhancing private property rights. I believe voters should hire me because I have presented the most clear and forward-looking policy platform of any candidate in the race. I am the candidate most able to unify our caucus, our government and our party. I am best able communicate our message to all Saskatchewan people – both urban and rural, of all ages and demographics – and unite them with the Saskatchewan Party to defeat the NDP.
Who should we call for a reference?
Professional: Michelle Ouellette Q.C. Partner, McKercher LLP
Business: Terry Bergan P. Eng. President, International Road Dynamics Inc.
Personal: Francis Hrudka.
What are your priorities for Saskatchewan?
My priorities for Saskatchewan are rooted in the Guiding Principles of the Saskatchewan Party; principles that speak to smaller, more efficient and compassionate government.
My policy priorities are numerous and can all be found on my website at gordwyant.ca/policy, but my overarching priorities can be summed up within my vision statement: As we work together to continue to build Saskatchewan’s future, I will lead a party and a government that:
- Capitalizes on the talent of our people
- Supports a modern economy focused on technology and trade
- Emphasizes tolerance for all people; and
- Commits to openness and transparency
What is your greatest strength?
I am a good listener. I believe listening is the key to understanding perspectives which is vital to good policy decision making.
What is your greatest weakness?
I get frustrated with the glacial pace of change, especially in government, which leads to paralysis which ultimately isn’t in the best interests of those we are elected to serve.
Would you maintain the increase and expansion to the PST enacted in the budget?
No. Since the summer I have consulted with the insurance industry, the financial planning industry, and heard from hundreds of Saskatchewan taxpayers that removing the PST exemption on insurance premiums must be reversed. I have also committed to making the exemption retroactive to August 1, 2017 so that no one pays as a result of the decision.
Where do you stand on provincial debt?
Debt-reduction is key to the province’s long-term fiscal strength, however, I make no apologies for borrowing to invest in the infrastructure that this province needs to sustain our growing economy and population, whether hospitals, highways, or schools. Saskatchewan’s debt-to-GDP ratio and our annual debt-servicing costs as a percentage of revenue are amongst the lowest in the country. Generally low interest rates combined with the province’s high credit ratings mean we can responsibly borrow for large-scale infrastructure projects; what must be avoided is borrowing to pay for the day-to-day operations of government. As Premier, I will be focused on eliminating the operating debt of the province, maintaining a low debt-to-GDP ratio, and ensuring our debt servicing costs remain low.
What was the last book you read?
Firewater By Harold Johnson.
What is your favourite TV show?
Did the government handle the GTH controversy appropriately? How do you intend to maintain public trust in light of the GTH investigation?
It is unacceptable to me and to the people of Saskatchewan that after all this time, there are still more questions than answers when it comes to the GTH. If elected the next leader of the Saskatchewan Party and Premier of Saskatchewan, I will appoint a public inquiry to examine the provincial government’s establishment of the Global Transportation Hub (GTH) once the RCMP investigation has concluded. I believe the only way to lift the cloud over the GTH is to shine a very bright – and very public – light on the entire matter. I am also committed to broaden the powers of Saskatchewan’s Conflict of Interest Act to ensure the province’s Conflict of Interest Commissioner has all the legal tools necessary to investigate matters such as the GTH in a more timely and thorough manner.
When your alarm goes off in the morning, how many times do you hit the snooze button?
I’m usually up before my alarm goes off but when I’m not, I’m up with the alarm. On weekends, when I do have it set (which isn’t very often) I may hit snooze once or twice.
There have been complaints about the impact the budget had on the classroom. How will you ensure education needs are met across the province?
Not a wheel turns within our provincial economy without education. The classroom of today is an increasingly complex environment and it is clear that we need integrated solutions that recognize and support the individual needs of students. My education platform includes the following components:
- Inclusive Education: Use data-driven decision making to direct funding towards the programming, professionals, and tailored supports that will show results for students facing complex learning, language, cognitive and behavioural challenges.
- Review of the Education Sector Strategic Plan (ESSP): Immediately engage in fulsome consultations with all partners in the education sector to ensure that appropriate funding is being directed towards achieving the goals of the 2014-2020 ESSP.
- Educating the Citizen of Tomorrow: Introduce a stronger civics component within the provincial curriculum, emphasizing the responsibility of citizenship and the need for community engagement. This includes affirming the value of and need for Treaty education within the curriculum.
- A Renewed Relationship with Teachers: Commit to a meaningful and open discourse with the province’s nearly 13,000 educators, ensuring they have both a voice in education policy and the freedom to teach in the classroom.
- Supporting Choice and Local Input: Local decision-making at the school board level must be maintained within our K-12 system. This includes freedom of choice in education and allowing religious and private education opportunities to co-exist within a publicly funded system.
Brad Wall is said to be the brand of the Saskatchewan Party. How do you intend to differentiate yourself from him and make your own stamp as leader?
There is no question that Premier Wall is a once-in-a-generation leader who always conducted himself with honour, humility, and good-humour. These are qualities that every elected leader should aspire to, and if I am so fortunate to be chosen as Premier, I would work to bring those same qualities to the role. As a new Premier however, I will be heavily focused on uniting our caucus and our party, renewing our relationships with First Nations communities and municipalities, and implementing a policy agenda that will continue to move Saskatchewan forward; I don’t believe that much time will be spent on worrying about the ways my leadership style and personality resembles or differs from Premier Wall. Leaving my personal stamp of the Premier’s Office is far less important to me than working hard every day to serve the people of Saskatchewan to the best of my ability.
Who inspires you and why?
My wife Christine. She is an extraordinary person. Her energy and passion for our family and her business is truly remarkable. She is an advocate for her profession as demonstrated by the many positions she has held including incoming President of the Canadian Pharmacist Association. I can honestly say I wouldn’t be where I am professionally, politically or personally without her support.
Is a carbon tax inevitable? What will you do to work with the federal government on this issue?
I do not believe that carbon tax is inevitable. As Premier, I will use any and all tools at the province’s disposal to continue to fight the federally imposed carbon tax. This includes pursuing a constitutional challenge against the federal government’s attempt to override our provincial authority to develop a made-in-Saskatchewan solution to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As the Minister of Justice and Attorney General I had the responsibility for mounting Saskatchewan’s court challenge, and I believe there is a very strong constitutional case with regard to the forced imposition of a carbon tax. In my policy platform, I have indicated that federal-provincial relations would be one of my top priorities and this includes policies aimed at combatting climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Silent auctions. I have a lot of trouble not participating. I have a sign in my garage that reads ‘My greatest fear is that when I die my wife sells my stuff for what I told her it costs’. Most of that comes from silent auctions.
What is currently on your playlist and which song are you most embarrassed to have on the list?
I have quite an eclectic list of music; everything from classical and opera to rock and country and western. The most embarrassing song I think is ‘Eat It’ by Weird Al.
It’s a day off and you can have anything you want for dinner. What would it be?
A comfort food dinner for me would be perogies, cabbage rolls and farmers sausage.
If you could sit down for dinner with any famous historical figure, who would it be and why?
JFK. I am fascinated about what went on in the Oval Office during the Cuban Missile Crisis.