Allan Blakeney

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Allan Blakeney
10th Premier of Saskatchewan
In office
June 30, 1971 – May 8, 1982
Monarch Elizabeth II
Lieutenant Governor Stephen Worobetz
George Porteous
Irwin McIntosh
Preceded by Ross Thatcher
Succeeded by Grant Devine
Leader of the Opposition
In office
1982–1987
Preceded by Eric Berntson
Succeeded by Roy Romanow
Personal details
Born Allan Emrys Blakeney
(1925-09-07)September 7, 1925
Bridgewater, Nova Scotia
Died April 16, 2011(2011-04-16) (aged 85)
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Political party New Democratic Party
Spouse(s) Anne Gorham

Allan Emrys Blakeney, PC, OC, SOM, QC, FRSC (September 7, 1925 – April 16, 2011) was the tenth Premier of Saskatchewan from 1971 to 1982, and leader of the Saskatchewan New Democratic Party (NDP).[1]

Life and career[edit]

Born in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, Blakeney took his law degree at Dalhousie Law School, and was a Rhodes Scholar at Queen's College, Oxford, where he played for the Oxford University Ice Hockey Club.[1]

On returning to Canada, he became a senior civil servant in Saskatchewan before entering politics in 1960 and serving as a cabinet minister in the governments of Tommy Douglas and Woodrow S. Lloyd.[1] As minister of health, he played a crucial role in the introduction of Medicare.[2][3]

NDP leader[edit]

In 1970, Blakeney succeeded Lloyd as leader of the Saskatchewan NDP, which was then in opposition. Historically, his election as leader has been interpreted as a victory of the provincial NDP's "establishment" over its extreme left-wing Waffle faction, because Lloyd was trying to move the party more to the political left, which meant he supported the Waffle Manifesto at the October 1969 Federal NDP convention in Winnipeg.[4] As well, Lloyd backed The Waffle's right to debate issues after the convention which disturbed many of his MLAs, who eventually forced him to resign in March 1970.[4]

Premier[edit]

In the 1971 provincial election, Blakeney led the party to power, defeating Ross Thatcher's Liberal government.

Blakeney's government practised state-led economic intervention in the economy.

The farmers were a high priority, as globalization began transforming agriculture, weakening the traditional family farm through consolidation, mechanization, and corporatization. The NDP promised a "revitalized rural Saskatchewan," and Blakeney's introduced programs to stabilize crop prices, retain transportation links, and modernize rural life. Looking back he lamented the gradual conversion of Saskatchewan's family farms into larger agricultural ventures: Without resorting to the "very high costs" and "billions of dollars" used to preserve family farming in Europe and the United States, "[w]e were, it seems, King Canute trying to hold back the tide."[5]

His government created a Crown corporation in the potash industry in an attempt to further diversify the province's agrarian economy and threatened expropriation of private potash mines within the province.[1] Blakeney pointed out that the sums paid for these mines were slightly in excess of their appraised "book" value. However, the mere threat of expropriation created a political firestorm that involved even the U.S. government.[6]

Blakeney also created a state-owned oil and gas corporation, SaskOil, to handle oil exploration and production.[1] The private oil industry had essentially abandoned Saskatchewan following the NDP's imposition of extremely high royalty rate policy of the early 1970s. Prime Minister Trudeau's policies (to centralize control in Ottawa) outraged Blakeney, and he moved closer to Alberta's position of open hostility. Blakeney joined Alberta Progressive Conservative Premier Peter Lougheed in a fight for provincial rights over minerals, oil and gas.[1] [7]

Blakeney played an important role in the federal-provincial negotiations that led to the 1982 patriation of the Canadian constitution.[1]

Defeats in 1982, 1986[edit]

Blakeney's government was defeated in the 1982 provincial election, in its attempt to win a fourth successive term. It was defeated by the Progressive Conservative Party, led by Grant Devine.[1] The NDP lost 35 of its 44 seats—the second-worst defeat of a sitting government in the province's history at the time.

Once in opposition, Blakeney continued to lead the party up to the 1986 provincial election. The NDP not only regained much of what it had lost in its severe beating of four years earlier, but also gained more votes overall than Devine's Progressive Conservatives.[1] However, much of that margin was wasted on landslide margins in Regina and Saskatoon, leaving the NDP eight seats short of regaining power. Blakeney resigned in 1987 to be succeeded by Roy Romanow.

On April 30, 1992, he was appointed as an Officer of the Order of Canada for his work as Premier of Saskatchewan, his enormous contribution to the field of public administration and as a key player in introducing the first comprehensive public medical health care plan in Canada.[2] In 2000, he was awarded the Saskatchewan Order of Merit. In 2001, he was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. Blakeney is also a past president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

Death[edit]

As a private citizen Blakeney served as a consultant to the Romanow government in the 1990s when they sold the SaskOil to Occidental Petroleum. Then Blakeney served on the board of directors of the successor corporation.

Blakeney died on April 16, 2011 at his home in Saskatoon of complications from cancer.[3][8]

Federal NDP leader Jack Layton dedicated the rest of his federal election campaign to Blakeney, who died about halfway through the campaign.[9] About 600 people attended his memorial, including federal NDP leaders Jack Layton and Ed Broadbent, former provincial premiers Roy Romanow, Lorne Calvert, Peter Lougheed, Ed Schreyer, Bill Davis, and Bob Rae, as well the current Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall.[10]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Gruending, Dennis (2006). "Blakeney, Allan E. (1925—)". The Encyclopaedia of Saskatchewan. University of Regina. Retrieved 2009-12-12. 
  2. ^ a b Rideau Hall (2009-04-30). "Allan Emrys Blakeney, P.C., O.C., S.O.M., Q.C., M.A., D.C.L.". Honours, Order of Canada. Governor General of Canada. Retrieved 2009-12-12. 
  3. ^ a b "Former Saskatchewan premier Allan Blakeney dies of cancer". The Globe and Mail. April 16, 2011. Retrieved September 18, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b McLeod & McLeod, p.359
  5. ^ Allan Blakeney, An Honourable Calling: Political Memoirs (2008) pp. 5, 125
  6. ^ Blakeney, An Honourable Calling: Political Memoirs pp. 156-62
  7. ^ Blakeney, An Honourable Calling: Political Memoirs p. 5
  8. ^ CBC News (April 16, 2011). "Allan Blakeney, former Sask. premier, dies". Retrieved April 16, 2011. 
  9. ^ Former Sask. Premier Allan Blakeney dies of cancer, Opposition leader says The Canadian Press, April 16, 2011. Retrieved April 16, 2011.
  10. ^ Former Saskatchewan premier Allan Blakeney remembered as great statesman The Canadian Press, May 6, 2011. Retrieved May 7, 2011.

References[edit]