PROFILE: Brad Wall
Leader of the Saskatchewan Party
Premier Brad Wall is Mr. Popularity, according to several polls – not a bad position to be in as the Saskatchewan Party hits the campaign trail.
The 45-year-old from Swift Current has the highest favourability rating among Canada’s premiers, according to an Angus Reid survey.
In Saskatchewan, he’s also the people's choice for the province’s top job, according to a recent newspaper poll.
The big question is how that likeability will translate into Saskatchewan Party seats on Nov. 7.
The party undoubtedly hopes voters will remember the statesman-like Wall they saw last year during BHP Billiton’s bid to buy Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan.
"We must say no to this hostile takeover," Wall said in a well-received speech to the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce that boosted his national profile. (The federal government ultimately did reject the Billiton bid.)
Voters may also remember Wall as the feisty debater in question period exchanges with NDP leaders Lorne Calvert and Dwain Lingenfelter.
Wall has been regularly reminded by the NDP of his service as a political aide in the dying days of the Devine government.
One favourite NDP charge was that Wall, as a ministerial assistant, was once involved in ordering large quantities of liquor to a minister's office. However, that allegation, referring to incidents from two decades ago, has not been raised recently.
In and out of spotlight
Over the past four years, Wall has often taken a high profile on the government's "good news" stories, such as an investment in nuclear medicine at the University of Saskatchewan, or a program to boost football programs for young people.
On more controversial stories, such as a plan to sell off conservation land, or fiercely-debated changes to labour laws, he has taken a relatively lower profile.
Even so, Wall has sometimes weighed in on contentious issues he feels strongly about.
When unionized crop insurance workers briefly went on strike this year, during a period when many farm fields in the southeast were flooded, Wall said it was "appalling" and "unconscionable" and vowed to order them back to work.
So what was the darkest day of his first term in government? Arguably, it was an embarrassing 17-year-old video unearthed by the NDP that threatened to tarnish his reputation.
It showed a 20-something Wall at a Progressive Conservative gathering speaking with an exaggerated Ukrainian accent and making disparaging comments about then-New Democrat leader Roy Romanow, who is of Ukrainian descent.
But Wall apologized in a reflective speech to the legislature where he pledged to watch his language and be a better person.
Fourth time running
The November 7 election will be Wall’s fourth as a candidate.
He ran unsuccessfully for the PC nomination in the Swift Current constituency in 1991.
He returned to politics in 1999 as the Sask. Party's nominee and took the seat from the NDP incumbent. He was re-elected in 2003 and 2007.
Wall was sworn in as premier on Nov. 21, 2007.