Deputy minister to premier running for Sask. Party leadership

Alanna Koch, the deputy minister to the premier, is looking to become the premier herself as she announced her bid Monday morning.

Veteran civil servant Alanna Koch has held a Sask. Party membership since its inception

Saskatchewan Party leadership candidate Alanna Koch speaks with retired rancher Murray McGillivray at her leadership run announcement on a farm just south of Regina. Koch has a background in agriculture. (Brandon Harder/CBC)

Former deputy minister to the premier Alanna Koch has announced her bid for leadership of the Saskatchewan Party and, by extension, the province.

Standing at a podium on a farmyard south of Regina on Monday, with the city visible behind her, she talked about the "sheer breadth and depth" of her experience as a mother, a farmer, an international trade advocate and a civil servant.

"The fact that I have served in so many capacities during my career, including being involved in the public service, just brings that new perspective to the job," she told reporters.

Koch says she's received a warm welcome from people, including caucus members, as a newcomer to partisan politics.

Platform undefined

Just what that new perspective might be is still unclear. Koch would not give any details regarding her platform, save for the fact that she opposes the federal carbon tax.

She did say that the path of the Saskatchewan Party, were she to become leader, would remain constant.

"What built the party will remain the party and will, in fact, strengthen the party."

Long-running party ties

Koch has worked for the government for 21 years, including a stint as the deputy minister of agriculture for eight years.

She was named as the deputy minister to the premier in May 2016. She was the first woman to hold the position.

The veteran civil servant, whose past positions were non-partisan in nature, said she has conducted her public career accordingly.

"I have been professional. I definitely have not been partisan during my time there."

However, she said she has held a Saskatchewan Party membership since its inception.

She also worked, in a number of roles, for the Progressive Conservative government of Grant Devine. Just before the Devine government fell in the 1991 provincial election, she worked as a political aide to the premier himself.

McMorris backs Koch

And Koch has received support from within the Sask. Party.

"I've got some support from caucus. In fact, there hasn't been one person that has indicated that they thought this wasn't a good idea — for me to enter the race," she said.

She noted that she contacted "each and every caucus and cabinet member," and received a warm welcome as a political newcomer.
Koch says she will stay the course if she's elected leader of the Saskatchewan Party, following in Brad Wall's footsteps. (Brandon Harder/CBC)

One of those caucus members, MLA Don McMorris, was on hand at the event. He said that although Koch may have some support, she may also face some challenges, because, after all, "this is a race."

"Each candidate brings pros and cons.You can maybe identify some of the cons, some of the caucus members may feel that," he said.

"They may be aligned with somebody else already and don't want the competition."

McMorris wasn't coy about his own allegiances, however, noting that he would do everything in his power to spread the word that Koch would be a "great premier."

"I think she's a strong candidate. I think she'll match up very well if she happens to win the leadership of the party to win the next general election."

Leave of absence

Koch is currently taking an unpaid leave of absence from her deputy minister position.

Koch joins cabinet ministers Ken Cheveldayoff, Tina Beaudry-Mellor, Gord Wyant and Jeremy Harrison in the leadership race.

The Sask. Party will elect a new leader in January.