By Marcia Love
Cypress Hills MLA Wayne Elhard will not be running again in the next provincial election.
After five terms, Elhard announced Tuesday he won’t be running in the election expected in April 2016 as he hopes to pursue other provincial and business goals as a non-elected official in relation to promotion and trades.
“I’m looking for something that has meaning and value for the province and something I can fit into my life,” he stated.
After 16 years, Elhard said he is confident he has accomplished everything he set out to do for “the forgotten Southwest.” Before running, he noted railways were being abandoned, elevators closed, utility companies were consolidating and leaving many communities, and schools were closing.
“When I look at things today in the Southwest, our school populations have stabilized… we’re seeing rural rail lines rehabilitated through the shortline program, we’re seeing improved highways and transportation in our constituency,” he explained, noting the majority of Highway 32 has been rebuilt as well as Highway 37.
He added many schools such as MCCS have been renovated.
In the coming months, Elhard is looking forward to the opening of the new Southwest Integrated Healthcare Facility and plans progressing with the new health facility at Leader.
“We’ve seen some pretty important investments in the communities of the Southwest,” he said. “Does that mean that things are perfect or that everything’s done? No. But I think I’ve achieved as much as I personally could achieve.”
Elhard was the first MLA elected under the Saskatchewan Party banner when he won a by-election in June 1999. He was then re-elected in the general election later that year and re-elected again in 2003, 2007 and 2011 – each time with an increased share of the popular vote. In 2011, he earned nearly 83 per cent of the vote in Cypress Hills – the second-highest popular vote percentage ever received by any Saskatchewan Party MLA.
Elhard is currently the Legislative Secretary for International and Diplomatic Engagement.
He has been a member of the legislature’s Standing Committee on Intergovernmental Affairs and Justice and the caucus’ standing policy committee on intergovernmental affairs and justice. He has previously served as Minister of Highways and Infrastructure and Minister Responsible for the Public Service Commission. He also served as the first chairman of the Global Transportation Hub, a large distribution and logistics project near Regina.
In June 2010, Elhard took on the role of co-ordinating the long-term infrastructure needs of the province as Legislative Secretary to the Premier, Ready for Growth Provincial Infrastructure initiative. This project resulted in the creation of Sask. Builds, and Elhard sits on the board as an appointed member.
Elhard was re-appointed as Provincial Secretary in November 2011, holding the position until June 2014.
Premier Brad Wall commended Elhard as a leader within the Saskatchewan Party.
“As our party’s first elected MLA, Wayne Elhard deserves a lot of credit for the success of the Saskatchewan Party,” Wall stated in a press release. “Wayne has always been a steady voice within our caucus and I am certainly going to miss him as a colleague from the Southwest who has been there since I was first elected.”
Elhard will continue to serve as the MLA for Cypress Hills until the next election.