Herb Cox, Larry Doke both say goodbye to the Leg

John Cairns’ Leg Watch

Friday marked the final day of the current legislative session, and also the final sitting day for 11 members of the legislature — seven Sask Party members and four New Democrats.

The day was turned over to their final farewell speeches in the Legislature. From the perspective of our news coverage area, it was a landmark day as two area MLAs- Herb Cox from the Battlefords and Larry Doke from Cut Knife-Turtleford — bid their farewells to the Leg, although they will continue on as MLAs until the election.

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Premier Scott Moe paid tribute to both of them in remarks recorded in Hansard.

Hon. Mr. Moe: Mr. Speaker, there are seven members on this side of the House that will be retiring. Two of them, the member for The Battlefords and the member for Cut Knife-Turtleford, like the member for Nutana, are part of the class of 2011. Greatest class ever, right guys? Mr. Speaker, both members have made a significant contribution during their time in government.

The member for The Battlefords served as the minister of Advanced Education as well as the minister of Environment and the minister responsible for the Water Security Agency. And as an MLA and as a minister, he sounded the alarm of the threat of zebra mussels and the threat that they pose to our provincial waterways and to our municipal systems. Mr. Speaker, the legacy of the member for The Battlefords will go far beyond what he has done even in this Assembly. His legacy will also speak about how he got things done. The Leader-Post columnist Murray Mandryk wrote about this member a while ago, and I quote, “A kinder, gentler, classier soul you won’t find in politics or anywhere else” about this member. Mr. Speaker, Murray Mandryk got it right. And I don’t say that every day.

Mr. Speaker, the member for Cut Knife-Turtleford, he served as the minister of Government Relations, First Nations, Métis and Northern Affairs. He also played a vital role on the executive of PNWER, the Pacific NorthWest Economic Region. The member was vice-president and then president of PNWER. Mr. Speaker, PNWER is an underappreciated organization that does a great deal to advance Canadian and American relations in this region, throughout the Midwest.

And when I think about the member’s time at PNWER, I can’t help but remember the quiet, effective diplomacy that he conducted without much fanfare, Mr. Speaker, but he conducted on the border issues that we had just over a year ago. And today the Port of Raymond on the Montana-Saskatchewan border remains a 24-hour operation, in no small part due to the efforts of the member from Cut Knife-Turtleford. Thank you for that.

The remarks of both Cox and Doke included the requisite thank yous to family, staff and supporters. Both also took time to reflect on their accomplishments over the past nine years. Here are some of Cox’s remarks on his final day.

Mr. Cox: — Thanks, Doc. Well thank you, Mr. Speaker. I’m not sure I’m in an envious position here or not, leading things off. But I guess I can’t be accused of copying everybody else’s speech because I’m sure we’re all going to do the same thing. We’re all going to be thanking a lot of people here today.

But I do plan to keep it fairly short. In fact my learned colleague here to my left, Don Morgan by name, has suggested that my speech should be about a minute and twenty seconds. So you can endure that. And then he had the audacity to go on and say, and I want you to talk about me for that period of time. Now how in heaven’s name can you fill 80 seconds talking about that subject? I don’t know.

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Mr. Speaker, I’d just like to take a minute to step aside here. I realize we don’t have a whole bunch of time, so I’m not going to run into a long time. My father-in-law, Roger Mann, I’ve never had a chance to talk about him here. Probably one of the finest human beings I ever met, very progressive farmer, straight-up kind of guy, you knew where you stood with him. Great cattleman, good horseman. Needless to say we got along very well.

And like a lot of retired farmers do after their lifetime of hard work, he and my late mother-in-law always went to Arizona for the winter. And each year he always brought me back something. You know, that was just the kind of guy he was. Or maybe I was his favourite son-in-law. I’m not sure what it was. I had a 50/50 chance on that one. One year he came back, and he brought me back a little gadget. It was in a nice little cellophane package, and he put it on the kitchen table one Sunday morning where we were drinking coffee. And I looked at it and started opening it up and said, thanks Roger, but what is it? He said, you don’t know? I said, no, what is that? And he said, that’s a round TUIT. And I said, a round TUIT? What’s that do? Well he said, every time I ask you if you’ve fixed this or put this out or done this or mowed that, you always say I didn’t get around to it. Well now you’ve got one, so you’ve got no excuse.

So I got thinking about that, and today I said I wasn’t going to get too political. You know, we’re doing politics differently now I understand. But I thought about that after, and maybe he should have brought back a milk pail of round TUITs because there’s some things that our members opposite didn’t get around to when they were in power.

You know, I think about the seniors’ income plan that we tripled shortly after we came into power. And I’m sure they meant to do that. They just didn’t get around to it. I know they intended to fix a lot of highways, but again they just didn’t get around to it. They were going to build a new hospital in North Battleford. My predecessor, Mr. Taylor, said that. I guess they just didn’t get around to it. So maybe if I go to Arizona after my retirement in a few short months, I may pick up some more round TUITs.

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I think back to my inaugural speech — and I can’t believe it’s nine years ago, sitting back in this corner where the chairs no longer are — and talking about whether I would ever tire of being in awe of this place, and I don’t think I ever have. It’s flown by, but it’s been a great trip, and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. And if I can take the liberty of quoting myself back from that speech, I think I said something along the lines of, something that I’ve learned at a personal improvement seminar was, service is the rent you pay for the space you occupy. And I hope that I have provided the service that I should and that my rent is fully paid up for this chair.

And I’d just like to close, Mr. Speaker, with a quote from the poet and civil rights activist, Maya Angelou: “People may forget what you’ve said; they may even forget what you’ve done, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” And, Mr. Speaker, it’s my wish that my constituents, my colleagues, and indeed citizens of this province feel, firstly, that I’ve been worthy of their support; secondly, that I have made a difference while I was here, and that I cared about them, and that they feel I have helped to make this province a better place than I found it.

So with that, Mr. Speaker, I would just say to you and all of my colleagues . . . And I see we never got our cardboard cut-outs done here to have all these chairs full, but I guess we didn’t get around to it. I’ll just say this, Mr. Speaker, adios. Vaya con Dios.

Here are some of Doke’s remarks as he bid farewell.

Mr. Doke: — Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Before I begin today, I’m not going to get political at all. I was very fortunate to have the late Ben Heppner and the late Yogi Huyghebaert tell me everything about the NDP, so I don’t need to go any further. I got it all.

First of all, I’d like to thank my constituents of Cut Knife-Turtleford. Their support has been unbelievable. First election we gathered 64 per cent of the vote, and then our second go around we were at 80 per cent. I’ve been honoured. It’s been very humbling to support them and bring their concerns to this legislature.

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As the Premier said, I did a stint with PNWER here since 2013, seven years. And the trade and export division of the ministry, I have to say two names. Renata and Lisa have been outstanding in keeping me informed and on schedule with all my PNWER duties, and it went very well.

And with PNWER I would like to say that, as the Premier said, it is an organization that I hope government stays with. The Pacific Northwest is very important for trade, and we need it. And I believe that PNWER’s efforts on COOL [country of origin labelling], on cross-border trade, on cybersecurity, transportation; the list goes on . . . And I hope that we stay supportive of that.

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Getting back to PNWER, I think this PNWER organization is extremely important in making Saskatchewan visible not only to our neighbours of Alberta and BC [British Columbia] and the Yukon and the territories, but to all those northern states where we have lots of cross-border trades, our goods that go across every day. And so I’ll say it one more time. I hope that we stay a member of that and I hope the person that replaces me gets deeply involved in it because it is very, very important.

Mr. Speaker, there’s a couple things here I won’t miss. I’ve got a little bit of time here, I’ll say it. And that’s some cliché sayings that actually give me nightmares sometimes. My good friend, my roommate, my colleague from Moose Jaw and his famous line, “What are you talking about?” I don’t think I’m going to miss that. As much as I understand what he’s saying, I don’t . . .

An Hon. Member: — What are you talking about?

Mr. Doke: — Oh, what are you talking about? But, Mr. Speaker, the one that haunts me to this day, and hopefully it will end here, is my good friend, Buckley (Belanger, MLA for Athabaska). And Buckley has one line. He’s got many lines, but he’s got one that sticks with me forever and that’s, don’t mess it up. Just don’t mess it up. I could go on. There’s many more, but I appreciate and I also appreciate Buckley’s friendship that we’ve had through here. We jab each other lots and everything, but it is a good friendship and I thank him for that. Sometimes my colleagues will say things to me about, you know, he’s going on and on and on. I think you have to admire anybody that can jump first one up on every bill and speak the House out. So you know, it takes a lot of work. And I appreciate that forum.

Mr. Speaker, in closing I just want to say that nobody, nobody in this building is entitled to be here. You are put here by your constituents. You are here to represent them. Private agendas, personal agendas don’t belong here. If they coincide with what your constituents want, then yes. But that is not why we are here. And I believe in good debate makes for good decisions.

I would close out by saying that I should say one more thing about the Speaker, but he’s gone. And I just wanted to talk about his passion for the archives, his vast knowledge of cattle and the cattle business, but more importantly his input that we had on the crime committee when it come to the criminal justice system and our troubled youth. He had a great deal of input on that. And I think some of our decisions that we made at the end were because of his involvement so I thank him very much for that.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, I would say that to all my members, listen to learn, not to respond. And it’s been an honour to be here.

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