Premier Brad Wall was adamant that former Finance Minister Kevin Doherty chose to leave that position in a media briefing following a cabinet shuffle announcement on Wednesday afternoon.
A question many were asking is why.
The provincial cabinet of 17 needed a shuffle as five ministers had resigned heading into the election of a new Saskatchewan Party leader.
In the shuffle, Doherty was removed from the finance portfolio and will instead be responsible for the Ministry of Advanced Education.
It’s a noteworthy change for a politician who had risen quickly through the ranks and might have had leadership aspirations. Some political observers thought Doherty would throw his hat in the ring.
But on Monday, it was made clear he would not be doing so.
When Doherty made the decision not to run for party leader, Wall said he indicated he would rather take a break from Finance, if asked to stay in cabinet.
“I still want him in the cabinet for the experience he provides,” Wall told media. “He’s done a lot of work over the last while.”
‘These aren’t jobs for life.’
– Kevin Doherty
Indeed, it’s been a busy year for Doherty, who was the face of a budget the premier himself predicted would be unpopular, containing cuts to both spending and jobs.
Wall reiterated this on Wednesday, saying the budget was the most difficult his government brought down. Doherty, who was first elected to the legislature in 2011, found himself defending it often.
Moving on or moving out
Doherty said he simply wanted to step down after nearly six years on the treasury board.
He said he spoke recently to Wall about how he could best support the government in the leadership transition.
“I was prepared to look at something else and perhaps even take a step back altogether out of cabinet,” he said. “These aren’t jobs for life.”
‘I didn’t see a path to victory. Those who are in the race have obviously mapped out their path to victory.’
– Kevin Doherty explains why he’s not seeking to lead the Sask. Party
Instead, Doherty will return to familiar territory — Minister of Advanced Education, the post he held before getting the boost to Finance in 2015.
Joseph Garcia, graduate supervisor with the department of political studies at the University of Saskatchewan, said this move was one of the most interesting points of the…