The man who vowed to fight Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s national carbon tax is leaving politics. Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall surprised most political observers when he announced his retirement Thursday night.
Just last May he called a white paper produced by the Trudeau government to sell the carbon tax “a ransom note.”
Wall has led the energy-rich province for almost a decade and was unfailingly ranked as the most popular provincial politician in Canada.
Wall’s Saskatchewan Party became the home of conservative voters after the collapse of the Progressive Conservatives and provided a clear ideological alternative to the quasi-socialist New Democrats who dominated the prairie province for decades.
As a government, it set about reducing regulation and privatizing many public sector services. Wall was also the only provincial premier to condemn Trudeau’s carbon tax and who insisted Saskatchewan would not adopt the policy.
He called the last 10 years “the honor of my working life” and posted a farewell video on his Facebook page, stating, “Now is the time for renewal. … It’s time for me to retire from politics.”
He says he will remain in office until a new party leader is selected but then it will be “time for me, and for my family, perhaps to do something else.”
Wall was a favorite to lead the federal Conservative Party after former prime minister Stephen Harper stepped down. The premier made a series of speeches to conservative groups and was actively encouraged to enter the race — but stayed out and watched another Saskatchewan politician take the leadership prize, Andrew Scheer.
At his farewell news conference, Wall looked back at his legacy: “It is easy to forget the questions we used to ask in this province just 10 years ago. We really did wonder, would we ever get to a million people and then stay over a million people? Could we ever add enough jobs to the economy?” Wall said.
Trudeau, losing his strongest provincial critic, thanked Wall for his “many years of service to Saskatchewan and our country.”