The April 1982 Saskatchewan election proved to be a major turning point in the province’s history. Over its nine years in office, the Devine government commenced and completed numerous policy initiatives in spite of considerable challenges including two recessions. In retrospect, many of those initiatives fundamentally shifted policy away from state ownership. The evidence, as detailed in the Frontier Centre book “So Much More We Can Be”, shows that the Devine government was indeed an important inflection point in Saskatchewan history. It significantly diversified the provincial economy while creating long-lasting positive effects on Saskatchewan’s revenues, employment and the quality of life of its citizens.
What were those policy initiatives and why was the turn away from government ownership central to the principles and tactics that guided them? Saskatchewan, in many respects, now leads Canada as a province of prosperity and opportunity. How can we learn from these policy initiatives as we look to our future? What would Premier Devine have done differently if he had to do it all again? Can we return to a time of big bold policy ideas to re-energize the private sector economy – especially during a time when the federal government is rapidly expanding the public sector and crushing the private economy and resource sector with more taxes and regulations?
Grant Devine was elected the 11th premier of Saskatchewan, serving two terms from 1982 to 1991. He is a U of S agriculture graduate with degrees from the University of Alberta (MSc, MBA) and Ohio State University (PhD). He began teaching at the U of S in the ‘70s before entering politics. He currently has a farm and ranch near Moose Jaw, where he previously served as chairman of Live Bid Auction and served as a director for Agrium. In 2009, he was honoured with the Saskatchewan Order of Merit for his contributions to the province. Grant Devine currently serves on several committees of the Board of Governors at the University of Saskatchewan.