Last week, Lloydminster MLA Tim McMillan shocked many in Saskatchewan by announcing his early exit from provincial politics to become president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP).
McMillan spoke to the Lloydminster Source on Thursday morning, saying that his departure from politics is hard at a time when he still loves his job.
“I come home from work every day, and tell my wife that I still love my job,” McMillan said.
Before the announcement, McMillan met with Premier Brad Wall last Wednesday to announce his intentions and said that he would stay on as an MLA until his work was done.
Wall said in a teleconference that the party has mixed feelings about the departure of McMillan.
“We are happy for him, and congratulate him on the position ... obviously I want to thank him as well, Tim has done excellent work first and foremost as an MLA for Lloydminster,” he said.
“(McMillan) has been tirelessly working on projects for the constituency and in his file when he was minister of Energy and Resources.”
Wall said that McMillan enjoyed the position because of the importance of the energy sector in the riding of Lloydminster.
“McMillan did a good job in cabinet, and I asked him to serve on the Treasury Board, which makes financial decisions and help to craft the budget,” said Wall.
“We wish him well in his new venture.”
Wall has six months to call a byelection and played coy about the possibilities of when it would be called, but said that there wasn’t a chance to have a new MLA in place before sitting resumed in the fall.
“We are going to ask the area MLAs to make sure that (Lloydminster constituents) concerns are looked after,” Wall said.
“We will be working hard to ensure that the people of Lloydminster will have seamless service and representation in the province.”
Wall said that will happen as quickly as possible.
“Lloydminster people deserve a voice there,” he said.
“There is a six-month period here, so I don’t have a specific date to tell the people of Lloydminster, but in that six-month period, we don’t want to rule anything out.”
Wall said that within reason, with the return of the fall session and the Christmas break coming up, the province will balance out all of those time lines before deciding on a byelection date.
“What is paramount is Lloydminster residents have the representation that they deserve, and we will achieve that in the interim with our neighbouring MLAs,” he said.
For McMillan’s position as minister of Rural and Remote Health, Wall said that there will be a transition to a new minister.
“Within days we will have a new minister, someone helping out in that portfolio,” he said. “In the interim, Don McMorris is acting, in some sense in a backroom fashion, to (Health Minister) Dustin (Duncan).”
With the byelection expected within the next six months, Wall said that the Saskatchewan Party will be holding open nominations for candidates, as party policy does not allow for a leader to appoint the party’s candidate.
Lloydminster Mayor Rob Saunders said it was a bit of a surprise that McMillan stepped down part way through his term.
“It’s a good thing for Tim personally, and he made a personal choice,” he said.
Saunders said with McMillan resigning, he will be reaching out to other local MLAs in Saskatchewan to talk with them on issues that are pressing to Lloydminster.
“(The city) will be in contact with both (Jeremy) Harrison and (Larry) Doke and we will carry on business as usual, but with both of those men,” he said.
Saunders said that McMillan will be missed because he gave the people of the constituency a voice in Regina.
“Tim would greet us at events like the Saskatchewan Urban Municipality Association (SUMA) and last year he took Lloydminster council on a tour of the legislature in Regina, and he has always been open and he always took time for us at city hall,” he said.
Opposition ready for byelection
Opposition members’ reactions to McMillan’s sudden resignation came swift, with Opposition house leader Warren McCall saying that the announcement came as a surprise.
“Mr. McMillan was just freshly nominated for the 2016 general election in July of this year, so he hasn’t filled out his whole term, and certainly he seemed to be one of the up and comers in the Wall government caucus,” he said.
McCall said that Lloydminster needs to be represented and is calling on the premier to call a byelection sooner rather than later.
“The premier had an opportunity to build a new cabinet, where McMillan had a role to play,” he said. “Really and truly, it takes it from part-time representation, where Minister McMillan was visiting from Regina from time to time, to the premier assigning buddy MLAs at an ad hoc basis.”
McCall said that the bottom line is that Lloydminster needs better representation in Regina.
“The sooner we get to that byelection, the people of Lloydminster will get their chance to cast their votes for people who get better representa- tion,” McCall said.
Victor Lau, the leader of the Saskatchewan Green Party said that the Greens are ready and willing to head into a byelection at any time.
“With winter weather bound, it would make sense for Premier Wall to call a byelection for Lloydminster sooner rather than later,” said Lau. “But regardless of when the byelection date is set, we are ready for it.”
The Greens have nominated Shane Ripka to carry the banner in the upcoming general election, but there was no word if he would be running in the byelection.
The Saskatchewan Liberals, who didn’t run a candidate against McMillan in 2011, said that they don’t want a byelection, but want a general election instead.
“When you have nine members of your team looking for other jobs, it would be better to call an election than go through a byelection,” Liberal Leader Darren Lamoureux said.
“(Wall) has to call a byelection in the next six months in Lloydminster. The Saskatchewan Liberal Party will be waiting for him in Lloydminster when he eventually does call that byelection, and it will be the Saskatchewan Liberal Party that will hold your government accountable.”
Lamoureux said that if a byelection is called he will be running for the Liberals.
Wayne Byers, the 2011 Saskatchewan NDP candidate and president of the NDP Riding aAsociation, said in an interview that the NDP were taken back by the sudden resignation of McMillan.
“Usually, when you seek a position like MLA, it’s usually a four-year term, and usually you make that commitment to the people who you represent,” he said.
“But, events do change in people’s lives and it’s unfortunate that Mr. McMillan can’t serve out the remainder of the term that he was elected in 2011.”
Byers said that the Saskatchewan NDP have had people come forward that are interested in running for the party.
Former Saskatchewan Party Riding Association president James Thor- steinson announced that he would be seeking the nomination for the riding of Lloydminster in the upcoming byelection.
“After discussions with family, friends and supporters, I have decided to seek the Saskatchewan Party nomination for the upcoming byelection,” Thorsteinson announced via Facebook.
McMillan will officially resign his seat on Oct. 1, which gives Wall up to March 31, 2015, to call a byelection to fill the vacancy.
A general election will be scheduled for November 2015, but due to a conflict with the federal election, the provincial election is expected to be pushed back until spring of 2016.