'Just Brad': Premier says goodbye to Saskatchewan Legislature

Admired as a orator, Premier Brad Wall did not disappoint during his opening remarks of his farewell speech when, after welcoming guests from the gallery, he pulled out a card he said was sent to him by a student who recently visited the legislature on a school trip.

Brad Wall made his last speech in the legislature Thursday, after 14 years of leader as the Saskatchewan Party

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall says he is ready to give up political life. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

After 18 years, Premier Brad Wall stood for the last time on the floor of the Saskatchewan Legislature Thursday.

Admired as an orator, Wall did not disappoint during the opening remarks of his farewell speech when, after welcoming guests from the gallery, he pulled out a card he says was sent to him by a student named Emily who recently visited the legislature on a school trip.

"Dear Brad Wall: You are a great premier. It's OK that you are stressed out," Wall read, as the floor and galleries erupted in laughter.

"I have a feeling that Emily was here for question period," Wall said.

Wall, who has been leader of the Saskatchewan Party for nearly 14 years, announced his retirement from politics in August. While Thursday was his last day in the legislature, he will stay on as premier until the Sask. Party elects its new leader on Jan. 27.

During his final speech, Wall reminisced on his political life, beginning with a childhood dream of representing his home riding of Swift Current, Sask., to his 2007 election as premier. 

Before that, he said his most memorable win was Sept. 16, 1999, when he was elected the MLA for Swift Current.

"Walking up the stairs for the first time as an elected member, a duly elected member, sent by your friends and family and neighbours and constituents you had not yet met to represent them in this place — I will never forget that feeling as long as I live," Wall told the assembly.

Regrets Sask. isn't in better financial shape

He spoke glowingly of the achievements of his Saskatchewan Party government, saying his benchmark for public office is leaving a place better than when you first entered it — a mantra he believed his government has lived up to.

Asked later about regrets, Wall pointed to finances. "I would have liked to have left the balance sheet better."

During the 2016 provincial election, the Saskatchewan Party won 51 out of 61 seats under Wall's leadership. His popularity took a significant hit after the most recent budget, which saw the province post a $685-million deficit.

In his farewell speech, Wall spoke of the trade-off that happens when a person is elected — the transition from being an everyday citizen to assuming a political title.

Tearfully, he said that after 18 years he is ready for the transition back to being "just Brad" — a grandson, son, father of three and husband.

Wall told reporters he regrets not leaving Saskatchewan in better financial shape. (Geoff Leo/CBC News)

"When you have as great an honour, as it has been — when you have that title, when you're known by an office, you're by definition sharing the other part.

And think about it from [his wife] Tami's perspective — I do. She shared so much of her life and sacrificed lots so I could do this, so if I don't have to share my name or my identity with any official office or title, I have more time to give back to [family]," he told reporters.

Public policy could be next

As for what's next, Wall said he wants to travel with his wife and spend time with his kids.

When it comes to jobs, he said he has a few ideas. He's not interested in politics, the outgoing premier said, but is keen on public policy.

He's also said he's open to trying something completely different.

"I've offered to be a roadie for Colter," the premier said, referring to his son, singer-songwriter Colter Wall.

'He hasn't really responded."

With files from Creeden Martell