Minister of Social Services Tina Beaudry-Mellor has announced her leadership bid for the Saskatchewan Party and premier of the province.
Premier Brad Wall announced Aug. 10 he is retiring from politics but would stay on as premier until a new party leader has been chosen.
"People will say that I have not been in elected office long enough. … But if this is really about renewal then I see this as an advantage, not a disadvantage," Beaudry-Mellor said in a statement.
She is the first cabinet minister to formally announce a leadership bid.
Beaudry-Mellor, a former political science instructor at the University of Regina, was elected during the 2016 provincial election, which saw the Saskatchewan Party win 51 of 61 available seats.
Social services a priority, says Beaudry-Mellor
Beaudry-Mellor said she will continue down the path of opposing a carbon tax in Saskatchewan, balancing the provincial budget, and diversifying the province's portfolio.
"I will be no different in making sure that the economy remains strong and that we have those kinds of policies," said Beaudry-Mellor.
"However, what I do bring to the table that is different is those social issues where I feel that I have a sense of some nuance that perhaps some of my counterparts do not."
Beaudry-Mellor pointed to her time working at a food bank and at community-based organizations prior to becoming the Social Services minister.
Role as a woman in leadership
She said she has tried to encourage young people and women to get involved in politics and could not watch the leadership race from the sidelines.
"As a woman who has always advocated for women in leadership roles I feel like I would be remiss if I didn't throw my feet in as well," Beaudry-Mellor told reporters on Tuesday.
She will have to step down from cabinet immediately now that she has announced she is running for the leadership. Minister of Government Relations Donna Harpauer will assume Beaudry-Mellor's duties.
Cabinet ministers considering a leadership bid have been asked to announce their intentions by the end of August and resign their cabinet posts — a stance which Justice Minister Gordon Wyant said was fair.
"There has to be some separation between your role as an executive member of the government and your desire to lead a caucus," Wyant said.
Other ministers consider running
Wyant said he is "seriously considering" a leadership bid for the Saskatchewan Party, which would mean stepping down as justice minister.
"It's a big decision to make and I don't think anybody will make that decision lightly," Wyant said. "There's certainly big shoes to fill."
Wyant said he is consulting with his family and that he would like to make a decision in "the next short period of time," but did not want to rush it.
Other ministers who have said they are considering a leadership bid are Finance Minister Kevin Doherty, Health Minister Jim Reiter, and Parks, Culture and Sport Minister Ken Cheveldayoff.
If four or five cabinet ministers resign, Wyant said, he is confident there would be an immediate and adequate replacement for the ministers considering leadership.
Brad Trost considers joining race
Saskatoon-University MP Brad Trost confirmed he is considering a run for the leadership, saying a new leader from outside the cabinet would have the benefit of a fresh start.
"Premier Wall did a fantastic job but at the same time you always need to reset and clear out any baggage you have," Trost said.
"I'd have that advantage that not everyone else would have in this leadership race."
Trost, who also ran for the federal Conservative leadership — he finished in fourth place in the May 27 vote behind the winning candidate Andrew Scheer, another Saskatchewan MP — said he doesn't believe he would have any problems gaining support within the party.
Trost said his "style" would differ from Wall's, saying no one would be as "charming or as folksy or as personable" as the premier.
He said any new leader of the Saskatchewan Party would need to continue Wall's fight against the Liberal federal carbon tax plan.
The new leader would face two main challenges, Trost said.
"I think their biggest challenge right now is being able to explain some of the tough decisions that they've had to make, and to explain how they got there when there was years where they didn't have as many tough decisions," Trost said.
He said the second challenge was that it would be "impossible" to win as big a majority as Wall enjoyed in the past two elections.
"So how do you deal with the pride of being so successful and completely obliterating the NDP and keep humble and working hard?" Trost said.
He said family would also be also a factor in his decision.