hearted Converse Gray Draude offered balance
"From day one, June Draude has been the heart of the Saskatchewan Party," Premier Brad Wall generously offered Wednesday. He is only partly correct. The "heart" of the Sask. Party in terms of the vital organ pumping life blood through the body is still Wall. But in the poet's sense of the heart, as the home of kindness and empathy, it is Draude.
A common misconception is that politicians are judged by their worst moments.
First elected in 1995, Draude took the bold step of joining Progressive Conservatives to form the Sask. Party two years later. As a woman, a loyal supporter of former Liberal leader Lynda Haverstock and someone clearly perceived as a "liberal", Draude brought much to the fledgling party.
is also changing. This is best represented by the fact that Hutchinson was defeated in attempt to represent one of the newest, most rapidly growing parts of the province by a relatively new arrival, Muhammad Fiaz.
For this reason, political parties always require a certain balance, which takes us to why Draude's 19 year career as Kelvington Wadena MLA should be looked upon with fondness and why her pending departure will be a big blow to the Sask. Party.
As impenetrable as the Sask. Party's 63 per cent mid second term approval rating truly is, it should be noted that its success is based on three things: a strong economy, the likability of Wall as its front man, and the sense among voters that the Sask. Party is in sync with their needs, aspirations and views.
To suggest that Draude has shone throughout her political career would be inaccurate. She simply was not a good Crown corporations minister. But matched with the right "soft side" portfolios, Draude did wonders in her advocacy for the disabled, the intellectually challenged who now have access to group homes, urban First Nations people, those helped by Habitat for Humanity, etc.
They are not, but they aren't exclusively judged by their best moments, either. It's far more balanced, as politicians tend to be measured by their entire contribution.
electorate, respectively. The latter point, however, has been earned by people like Draude who showed there was room in the Sask. Party tent for non conservatives. Of course, Wall argued Draude's lesson that "there's no point in prosperity unless it benefits society" has been passed on to others in the Sask. Party. "I think we all, individually, strive for that balance," Wall said.
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This is how we should view retiring Social Services Minister June Draude, who has been judged rather harshly of late for her vanity trip to Ghana and London last year. Such a questionable decision should not taint a political career that has been all about making Saskatchewan a better place.
But younger ministers like Nancy Heppner, Tim McMillan and Jeremy Harrison all of whom learned their politics in the hard hearted Conservative/Reform ranks don't sound like they've learned much from Draude. Short of Mark Docherty and Jennifer Campeau, there aren't many liberals in the government backbenches.
On the heels of Finance Minister Ken Krawetz's retirement announcement Monday, Draude joins a growing list of senior Saskatchewan Party MLAs calling it quits that includes Bob Bjornerud and Don Toth (who very quietly announced his departure to constituents two weeks ago), Darryl Hickie and Yogi Huyghebaert.
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As the face of Saskatchewan changes, the Sask. Party needs balance more than ever.
Add to this list Bill Hutchinson, who was defeated in his bid for the Regina Pasqua nomination this week. Like the very face of the province, the face of Sask. Party Converse Leather
It has been a melancholy week for the Sask. Party with the announced retirement of the two more of its eight founding members, leaving only Economy Minister Bill Boyd and Speaker Dan D'Autremont. Of the original eight, it was Krawetz and Draude who provided the Sask. Party with its needed balance.
The two former points are at the mercy of a fickle natural resource sector and the Converse High Tops Grey
Draude's departure clearly disrupts that balance.
Few seem to remember the early days of the Sask. Party when social/fiscal conservatives tried to remake the party in their own image by demanding boot camps for youth, chain gangs for inmates, an end to the human rights commission and especially tough restrictions on social assistance recipients.
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Alas, her departure puts the Sask. Party at risk of becoming exactly what Draude helped it avoid.
who became the party's conscience, it was Draude who even before Wall was the party's kind heart. And nowhere did she serve the party and the province better in that role than as minister of social services and Metis and First Nations relations.
Mandryk is the political columnist for the Leader Post. When Canada found itself in the fight against .
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