Brad Wall

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Brad Wall
Brad Wall.jpg
Wall at the Leaders' Debate on March 23, 2016
14th Premier of Saskatchewan
In office
November 21, 2007 – February 2, 2018
MonarchElizabeth II
Lieutenant GovernorGordon Barnhart
Vaughn Schofield
DeputyKen Krawetz
Don McMorris
Don Morgan
Gordon Wyant
Preceded byLorne Calvert
Succeeded byScott Moe
Leader of the Saskatchewan Party
In office
July 15, 2004 – January 27, 2018
Preceded byElwin Hermanson
Succeeded byScott Moe
Member of the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly
for Swift Current
In office
August 16, 1999 – February 2, 2018
Preceded byJohn Wall
Succeeded byEverett Hindley
Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan
In office
July 15, 2004 – November 21, 2007
PremierLorne Calvert
Preceded byElwin Hermanson
Succeeded byLorne Calvert
Personal details
Born
Bradley John Wall

(1965-11-24) November 24, 1965 (age 56)
Swift Current, Saskatchewan, Canada
Political partySaskatchewan Party
Other political
affiliations
Progressive Conservative (until 1997)
Spouse(s)Tami Wall (m. 1991)
Children3, including Colter
Residence(s)Swift Current, Saskatchewan, Canada
Signature

Bradley John Wall (born November 24, 1965), is a former Canadian politician who served as the 14th premier of Saskatchewan from November 21, 2007 until February 2, 2018. He is the fourth longest-tenured premier in the province's history. His son, Colter Wall is a country music singer.

Wall was first elected to the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan as the Member for Swift Current in 1999, and he was re-elected four times, in 2003, 2007, 2011, and 2016. He became leader of the Official Opposition Saskatchewan Party on July 15, 2004, replacing Elwin Hermanson, and he led the party to a majority government in the 2007 election. In the 2011 election, Wall's government won the largest vote share in Saskatchewan's history with 64% of the popular vote and 49 of the 58 seats in the legislature. The 2016 election delivered Wall another majority, marking the first time since 1925 that a party other than the New Democratic Party or its predecessor, the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, had won three consecutive majority mandates.

For much of his tenure Wall polled as the most popular premier in Canada, and he is credited with raising Saskatchewan's profile on the national stage. Taking office during a period of growth catalyzed by rising global commodity prices, Wall's government focused on attracting investment and championing the province's resource-based industries. The government was persistently criticized for its privatization agenda, its disputes with organized labor, and its environmental stances. Commodity price crashes beginning in 2014 strained the province's finances, and Wall's popularity waned, particularly after introducing a severe austerity budget in 2017.

Wall announced his intention to retire as Saskatchewan Party Leader, Premier, and MLA for Swift Current on August 10, 2017.[1] In doing so, he became the first non-CCF/NDP Premier since 1935 to leave office for a reason other than losing a general election. Wall was succeeded as Premier on February 2, 2018 by Scott Moe.

Early life and career[edit]

Wall was born in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, the son of Alice (née Schmidt) and John Wall, Mennonites with Eastern European roots.[2][3] John owned a local trucking company. Wall demonstrated an early interest in politics, citing time spent playing a Fraser Institute-funded economics board game called Poleconomy as an early influence.[2][3] He also had a significant interest in music and hosted a rock show on a local radio station.[2] Wall attended the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, running for student council and graduating with an honours degree in Public Administration and an advanced certificate in Political Studies.[3][4]

During the 1980s Wall began working as a political staffer, first in the office of Swift Current Progressive Conservative Member of Parliament Geoff Wilson in Ottawa. There he helped to found the "Alliance for the Future of Young Canadians," a pro-free trade group.[5] Wall returned to Saskatchewan and worked as a ministerial assistant in the Progressive Conservative government of Grant Devine in Regina.[6] Wall worked for Graham Taylor, Minister of Public Participation, Tourism, Small Business, Co-operatives and Health, and for John Gerich, Associate Minister of Economic Development.[7] The Devine government was swept from power in 1991 under the specter of provincial bankruptcy and a growing expense scandal, which in the wake of the election turned into a massive fraud scandal. The subsequent investigation led to the conviction of 14 MLAs who served in the Devine government, 6 of whom received jail time, including Gerich, who was sentenced to two years.[8]

Wall described the downfall of the Progressive Conservatives as "disheartening" and the fallout, including the prison sentences, as "powerful lessons."[7] For most of the 1990s Wall's attention shifted away from politics to working in business in Swift Current. In 1991, Wall became the director of business development for the City of Swift Current, a role for which he eventually won an "Economic Developer of the Year" award.[7] At the time Wall also ran a consulting business, through which he attempted to move the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame from Kitchener, Ontario, to Swift Current; this effort failed and the museum ultimately moved to Calgary.[2] Wall also launched a short-lived tourism business called the Last Stand Adventure Company that centered upon a "Western ranch experience."[2][9] Wall sat on a number of boards including being a founding member of the Southwest Centre for Entrepreneurial Development.[citation needed]

Political career[edit]

Wall's first personal foray into provincial politics was in 1991 when he unsuccessfully sought the Progressive Conservative nomination for Swift Current. Despite missing out on the nomination, he still worked on the party's unsuccessful re-election campaign.[7]

MLA and Saskatchewan Party Leader (1999-2006)[edit]

Working in the private sector at the time, Wall has been credited with playing a backroom role in the creation of the Saskatchewan Party in 1997.[7][9] The party formed as a coalition of sitting Progressive Conservative and Liberal Party MLAs and members, and was intended to unify opposition to the NDP.[10] The Progressive Conservatives have in fact not won a seat in any election since the formation of the Saskatchewan Party, and neither have the Liberals since winning 4 seats in 2003; as such, the emergence of the Saskatchewan Party has effectively created a two-party system in Saskatchewan politics.[11]

After nearly a decade outside of electoral politics, Wall won the Saskatchewan Party nomination for Swift Current ahead of the 1999 election, the first since the Saskatchewan Party was formed, and he was elected MLA. He defeated NDP incumbent John Wall (no relation) with more than 50% of the vote as part of a wave of rural victories that saw the Saskatchewan Party win 25 seats and the NDP reduced to a minority government. Wall was appointed to the Saskatchewan Party's front bench as Justice Critic, and later as Critic for Crown Corporations as well.[2][12] After the election Wall also chaired a committee examining how to increase urban support for the party.[2]

Inaugural Saskatchewan Party leader Elwin Hermanson resigned after the NDP regained a narrow majority in the 2003 provincial election. Wall announced his candidacy for the leadership and was ultimately acclaimed the party's new leader on March 15, 2004.[2] Wall committed to a review of Saskatchewan Party policies, aiming to present a more moderate platform that could expand the party's support beyond rural areas.[2] This process resulted in several socially-conservative policies being jettisoned, such as work-for-welfare policies, so-called "boot camps" for young offenders, and a referendum on publicly funded abortions.[3] New policy resolutions included calling for treatment for crystal methamphetamine addicts, a patient-first review of the health care system, the development of a comprehensive plan to recruit and retain health care professionals, the development of an integrated addictions strategy for young offenders, a comprehensive review of the justice system, the establishment of a provincial youth justice board to address youth crime, rehabilitation and restitution measures, support for victims of crime, the establishment of a university research chair in occupational health and safety, and a review of the Workers' Compensation Board.[citation needed] Wall made economic issues the party's focal point and while in Opposition he released policy papers including "The Promise of Saskatchewan: A New Vision for Saskatchewan's Economy," in 2004, and "Getting Saskatchewan Back on Track: Addressing Saskatchewan's Labour Shortage," in 2006.[13][14]

Premier of Saskatchewan (2007-2018)[edit]

Wall's efforts to appeal to a broader base paid off in the 2007 election as the Saskatchewan Party won 38 seats, including 8 seats between the province's two largest urban areas in Regina and Saskatoon, securing a majority government. This made Wall the province's 14th premier, and its first conservative premier since Devine. The win ushered in a period of prolonged electoral success for Wall and his party. In 2011 the party secured a historic landslide victory, winning 49 seats and the highest vote share in the province's history at 64%.[15] This included making further inroads in urban centers as the party won 16 of 23 seats in Regina and Saskatoon. That year Wall also became the most popular premier in Canada, a distinction he would maintain through the 2016 election, which saw the Saskatchewan Party elected to a third consecutive majority with 62% of the vote and 51 seats in an expanded legislature.[16][17] This marked the first time since 1925 that a non-CCF/NDP government had won three consecutive majorities in Saskatchewan. Wall's personal popularity has been attributed to his skills as an orator and his sense of humor, and he has been credited with changing perceptions of the province, particularly through raising its profile on the national stage.[7][18] Wall's profile grew to the extent that he was considered synonymous with the party he led.[19] However, Wall's popularity began to wane during this third term, particularly after introducing an austerity budget in 2017.[20] With his party losing ground in polling and in two 2017 by-elections, Wall announced in August of that year that he would be retiring from politics.[1][6] This triggered what would become only the second contested leadership race in the history of the Saskatchewan Party. Rosthern-Shellbrook MLA Scott Moe won that contest on January 27, 2018, and succeeded Wall on February 2 when he was sworn in as premier.[21]

Wall and his Saskatchewan Party took office at a time when global commodity prices began to soar, particularly for oil, potash, and uranium, but also for coal and agricultural products, and the economy started to boom accordingly.[22] With resource revenues high, Wall focused on overseeing a period of growth and the province saw numbers of jobs increase by an average of 6,500 per year, while the province's population grew every year under Wall's premiership and by over 150,000 people overall.[22] Wall instituted widespread tax cuts and guided investments in health care, education, and infrastructure. In 2010 he signed Saskatchewan onto the New West Trade Partnership Agreement with Alberta and British Columbia, a free-trade pact that expanded to include Manitoba in 2017.[23] In 2014 the province was awarded a AAA credit rating.[16] However, after commodity prices crashed beginning in 2014 the province ran into significant economic turmoil. While Wall had been successful early on in paying down Saskatchewan's debt, which had nearly bankrupted the province in 1992 and reached a low of $7.9 billion in 2009, the debt rose rapidly after 2014 and would balloon to $14.8 billion in 2017.[24] That year the province's credit rating was downgraded to AA.[16] Wall's 2017 budget, the sixth deficit out of ten budgets under Wall, was deeply unpopular and criticized by many for its austerity and for disproportionately burdening poor and marginalized citizens in its efforts to address fiscal mismanagement.[20][25] While the budget maintained a commitment to lowering corporate tax rates, the provincial sales tax was increased and deep cuts were made to social services and education.[25] The budget also included cuts to grants to municipalities, which created budget crises for a number of municipalities.[26] While the Saskatchewan Party was criticized for its costly investment in applying the Lean program to its health care system, Wall has been credited with reducing Saskatchewan's surgical wait times from among the longest in Canada to among the shortest through the use of private surgical clinics within the public system. The policy was initially controversial but soon became popular due to the favorable results.[27][28]

Throughout his tenure as premier Wall was known as a staunch defender of Saskatchewan resource-based industries, especially potash and oil and gas. In 2010, Wall rose to national prominence through his opposition to an attempted hostile-takeover of Saskatoon-based PotashCorp, which was the world's largest potash producer, by Australian mining giant BHP. The $38.6 billion deal would have been the largest takeover in Canadian history, but the premier argued that Saskatchewan stood to lose billions in resource revenues and that such a takeover would damage Canada's strategic interests; the federal government ultimately blocked the deal, and Wall was subsequently named the Business News Network "newsmaker of the year," and the CTV "politician of the year."[16][29] Wall persistently championed the province's fossil fuel industries as well. In 2011 the Saskatchewan Party led investment of $1.2 billion to build the world's first industrial-scale carbon capture and storage unit at SaskPower's Boundary Dam power station in order to extend the use of coal in the province.[30] In 2014 Wall was vocal in lobbying the federal government to strengthen its regulation of the oil industry, arguing that stronger measures would aid pipeline development.[31] Wall would later be a vocal critic of efforts to lower greenhouse gas emissions, considering federal efforts like the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change and even global efforts like the Paris Climate Accord to be threats to the province's energy industry. Wall was particularly vehement in his opposition to a federal carbon tax, an issue Wall helped to put at the center of conservative political agendas across the country and at the national level.[32][33] Wall also took aim at civil society calls for climate action, for example lambasting the Leap Manifesto and calling it an "existential threat" to the oil industry.[34] Such stances drew the ire of environmentalists, and the province was persistently criticized for its environmental measures and its lack of regulation of industries in particular.[35] The 2016 spill of more than 200,000 liters of oil into the North Saskatchewan River from a Husky pipeline was blamed in part on a lack of proper regulation and monitoring.[36] The province's 2017 climate change plan, meanwhile, was largely panned by environmental organizations.[37]

Despite consistent growth in jobs Wall persistently found his government at odds with organized labor, beginning with 2007 efforts at revising provincial labor legislation. The government introduced two bills that were maligned as anti-labor as they removed the right to strike for more than 65,000 workers and made it harder for workers to unionize; one of the bills was ultimately struck down after being deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Canada in 2015.[38] Organized labor was also central to protests against the 2017 austerity budget.[25] Wall and his government were also critiqued for their privatization agenda, which included an estimated sale of $1.1 billion in public assets and the loss of more than 1,200 public sector jobs.[39] One of the most controversial decisions of the 2017 budget was the shuttering of the Saskatchewan Transportation Company, a provincially-owned bus company that serviced all areas of the province.[40] A major investment in the building of the Global Transportation Hub outside Regina also became controversial for questionable and allegedly fraudulent land deals.[41]

After 2015 Wall continued to keep a high profile on the national stage as a frequent critic of both Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Alberta NDP Leader and Premier Rachel Notley.[42] In 2015 Wall wrote a letter to Trudeau urging him to suspend the federal government's plan to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees before the end of that year.[43] He would go on to consistently target Trudeau over the federal carbon tax, laying the groundwork for the province to launch a constitutional challenge against the measure in April 2018.[32][44] Wall was also critical of Notley's efforts to strengthen national efforts to address climate change, and by 2017 Saskatchewan and Alberta were engaging in a series of trade disputes that began when Wall publicly attempted to lure energy companies to move their headquarters from Calgary to Saskatchewan.[45] Relations between the provinces were so dire at times that their respective trade ministers were not speaking.[45]

In June 2013, Wall attended the Bilderberg Conference, an annual private conference of approximately 120 to 140 invited influential guests from North America and Europe.[46]

Post-retirement[edit]

Wall remained active in political circles even after retiring from electoral politics. He was considered a strong candidate for leadership of the federal Conservative Party, but he declined to run in the party's 2020 leadership contest.[47] Wall did play a central role in the creation of the Buffalo Project, an American-style political action committee (PAC) aiming to influence federal politics, in Alberta. The Project claims to stand up for the interests of western industries, particularly the energy sector.[48] Wall was influential in laying the groundwork for the project, including raising funds, and although he did not take on a formal role with the group he has been a key advisor.[49] Although the group claims to be federalist, it has been associated with western separatism, particularly after the Saskatchewan branch of the separatist Wexit party rebranded itself as the Buffalo Party.[50]

Controversies[edit]

In January 2006 Saskatchewan Party MLA Brenda Bakken-Lackey resigned her seat, citing unspecified "frustrations" within Saskatchewan Party caucus and with the political system.[51]

In the Saskatchewan Legislature's spring 2006 session, NDP MLAs revealed that Wall had worked in John Gerich's office at the time when $15,000 worth of alcohol was mis-allocated to the Minister's office. Wall admitted to the media of his partaking in the alcohol and knowing it was "wrong" and stated he considered it "an asset" to have learned from the government's activities.[52][53]

On April 3, 2008, the provincial NDP released a video tape that was found at a former Conservative MP office. The tape was filmed during the 1991 Saskatchewan general election on the day of the leaders debate.[54] The video showed Conservative MP and former Saskatchewan Party staffer Tom Lukiwski making homophobic remarks.[55] Wall was also on the video using an exaggerated Ukrainian accent, making racist derogatory statements about former NDP Premier Roy Romanow.[55][56][57]

In 2015, Brad Wall was named in a lawsuit against himself, Rob Norris, the former Minister of Advanced Education, and the University of Saskatchewan and its Board of Governors for the controversial firing of the President, Ilene Busch-Vishniac. Wall and Norris are accused of unlawfully inserting themselves into the Board's decision to fire Busch-Vishniac.[58] The lawsuit is ongoing.[59]

In January 2016 inmates at the Regina Correctional Facility staged a hunger strike, alleging that they had been served unsafe and under-cooked food.[60] Wall told the media that if prisoners did not like the food they should not "go to jail." Wall's comments were heavily criticized for ignoring the issue and lacking compassion.[61][62]

In 2017, Wall raised the story of a member of the Saskatchewan NDP who had been sexually assaulted in Question Period in response to a question about the Global Transportation Hub land deal. The story was raised without the consent of the victim, and Wall was criticized for politicising the issue of sexual assault. Interim NDP leader Nicole Sarauer described his remarks as "disgusting," and asked he withdraw his comments, and the victim took to twitter to demand an apology as well. After initially stating in the legislature that he would make "no apology," Wall later publicly apologized to the victim, saying he "was not aware" she "did not want the matter raised in this forum."[63] It was described by Leader-Post columnist Murray Mandryk as "the worst of politics."[64]

In 2017, Wall addressed a room of Saskatchewan Party members at a nomination meeting, where he recited a joke about the execution of Métis leader Louis Riel, who was captured and executed by the Canadian government in 1885 following the Battle of Batoche. British Columbia's Métis Federation labeled Wall's joke as "foolish" and "insensitive" and called for an apology.[65][66]

In 2018 Wall tweeted a derogatory message in opposition to the federal carbon tax, which read "Usually when someone tells you to send in money but you’ll get more back in return, it’s a Nigerian prince." Shortly after, Wall deleted the tweet and issued an apology to Saskatchewan's Nigerian community.[67]

Wall discusses Canadian football with US ambassador David Jacobson.

Personal life[edit]

Wall resides in Swift Current. He is married to Tami whom he met in 1984 when they were both students at the University of Saskatchewan, and married in 1991.[4] Together they have three children – two daughters, Megan and Faith, and a son, Colter.[68] Colter Wall is a country singer.[69] Wall is an avid football fan, supporting both the local Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League and the National Football League's Oakland Raiders.[70] He is also a classic car enthusiast and owns a Cadillac that was once owned by Waylon Jennings.[70]

On May 1, 2018 Wall announced he would begin working as an advisor for the Calgary law firm Osler, Hoskin and Harcourt LLP.[71]

Electoral record[edit]

2016 Saskatchewan general election: Swift Current
Party Candidate Votes %
Saskatchewan Brad Wall 6,071 82.44
New Democratic Hailey Clark 1,112 15.10
Green George Watson 103 1.40
Liberal Glenn D. Smith 78 1.06
Total valid votes 7,364 99.55
Total rejected ballots 33 0.45
Turnout 7,397 60.55
Eligible voters 12,216
Source: Elections Saskatchewan[72]
2011 Saskatchewan general election: Swift Current
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Saskatchewan Brad Wall 6,021 80.97 +10.10
  NDP Aaron Ens 1,223 16.45 -6.95
Green Amanda Huxted 192 2.58 +0.40
Total valid votes 7,436 99.79
Total rejected ballots 16 0.21 -0.03
Turnout 7,452 68.30 -6.59
Eligible voters 10,911
Saskatchewan hold Swing +8.52
Source: Elections Saskatchewan[73]
2007 Saskatchewan general election: Swift Current
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Saskatchewan Brad Wall 6,006 70.88 +12.51
  NDP Robert Hale 1,983 23.40 -13.24
Liberal Justin Orthner 300 3.54 -1.45
Green Gail Schroh 185 2.18
Total valid votes 8,474 99.75
Total rejected ballots 21 0.25 +0.03
Turnout 8,495 74.89 +8.23
Eligible voters 11,343
Saskatchewan hold Swing +12.88
Source: Elections Saskatchewan[74]
2003 Saskatchewan general election: Swift Current
Party Candidate Votes %
Saskatchewan Brad Wall 4,312 58.36
  NDP Dean Smith 2,707 36.64
Liberal Mike Burton 369 4.99
Total valid votes 7,388 99.78
Total rejected ballots 16 0.22
Turnout 7,404 66.66
Eligible voters 11,107
Source: Elections Saskatchewan[75]
1999 Saskatchewan general election: Swift Current
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Saskatchewan Brad Wall 4,600 54.72%
  NDP John Wall 2,538 30.19% -12.53
Liberal Rhonda Thompson 1,269 15.09% -10.88
Total 8,407 100.00%

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Martell, Creeden (August 10, 2017). "Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall retiring from politics". CBC News.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Who is Brad Wall?". Regina LeaderPost. 2007-11-08. Archived from the original on 2009-05-11. Retrieved 2009-05-08.
  3. ^ a b c d Patrick White and Jane Taber (2009-07-12). "Wall flowers". The Globe and Mail.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  4. ^ a b Willett, Edward (2009). "Premier Brad Wall: "The luckiest guy in the country in terms of a job!"". Fine Lifestyles Regina.
  5. ^ "Brad Wall | The Canadian Encyclopedia". www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca. Retrieved 2021-02-27.
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  12. ^ Mills, Sarah (2017-12-08). "Tributes, tears as Brad Wall says goodbye to the legislature". 980 CJME. Retrieved 2021-02-27.
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  30. ^ Lorinc, John (2014-12-02). "The world's first carbon capture plant opens in Saskachewan". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2021-02-28.
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  34. ^ Fletcher, Robson (2016-06-08). "Brad Wall says oil industry faces 'existential threat' from Leap Manifesto, Hollywood". CBC News. Retrieved 2021-02-28.
  35. ^ Enoch, Simon and Stuart Trew (2016-09-01). "The Transformation of Saskatchewan". Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Retrieved 2021-02-28.
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  41. ^ Leo, Geoff (2016-02-03). "Businessmen made millions on Regina land that wound up in taxpayers' hands". CBC News. Retrieved 2021-02-28.
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  48. ^ Moore, Dene (2020-01-06). "The Buffalo Project: Behind the powerful cabal working on a New Deal for the West". National Post. Retrieved 2021-02-28.
  49. ^ Hunter, Adam (2019-01-22). "Brad Wall helped create right-of-centre Buffalo Project and grab investors". CBC News. Retrieved 2021-02-28.
  50. ^ Zinchuk, Brian (2020-07-26). "Provincial separatist party rebrands, appoints new interim leader". Humboldt Journal. Retrieved 2021-02-28.
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  52. ^ Saskatoon Star Phoenix, January 17, 1992
  53. ^ Brad Wall on CBC, March 23, 2006
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  55. ^ a b "Tory MP apologizes for anti-gay comments". CTV News. Archived from the original on 2008-04-05. Retrieved 2008-04-04.
  56. ^ "Saskatchewan MP apologizes over anti-gay slur". CBC News. April 3, 2008. Retrieved 2015-05-04.
  57. ^ "Labour livid over comments on controversial tape". Mysask.com. Retrieved 2018-05-14.
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  59. ^ Hill, Andrea (2019-05-24). "Former U of S president's lawsuit allowed to proceed; Busch-Vishniac ordered to put money in trust to dissuade concerns of defendants". The StarPhoenix. Retrieved 2021-03-01.
  60. ^ "Saskatchewan premier tells 115 inmates refusing to eat how to avoid prison food — don't go to jail". National Post. The Canadian Press. 2016-01-07. Retrieved 2021-02-28.
  61. ^ "Editorial: Wall too glib, panders with prison food comment". The StarPhoenix. 2016-01-11. Retrieved 2021-02-28.
  62. ^ Urback, Robyn (2016-01-12). "Robyn Urback: Let them eat frozen mystery meat — they're just prisoners, right?". National Post. Retrieved 2021-02-28.
  63. ^ Langenegger, Stefani (November 1, 2017). "Woman at centre of Sask. NDP sexual harassment investigation wants premier to stop citing her story". Canadian Broadcasting Company.
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