On balance, entrepreneurs tend to be an optimistic lot and easy to fire up with a positive, motivational message.
In Saskatchewan, few speakers are better at that than John Gormley, the sometimes bombastic, conservative radio host, lawyer, best-selling author and former Progressive Conservative MP for Battlefords-Meadow Lake.
Serving up a Saskatchewan-boosting, business-friendly combination of history, politics, social commentary, personal anecdotes and a liberal dose of self-promotion for his new book The Gormley Papers: I’m Right and You Know It, Gormley engaged business leaders at the Yorkton Chamber of Commerce Annual General Meeting April 29.
“I like to talk about the evolution of the new Saskatchewan from a place that was the envy of Canada in the nineteen-teens and the nineteen-twenties, when it was the fastest growing, third most populace place, to a place that took about a 70-year rest—there are a lot of reasons for that, some are political, some are social—and is now finding the wind in its sails again,” he said. “So, I try to trace the history, but I try to find the variables that continue to ensure we grow. Are we going to knock Alberta off anytime soon? Well, they’ve got a pretty good head start, but I see Saskatchewan continuing to grow and take our rightful place, which is much better than the past we’ve had.”
Gormley not only sees the new attitude in the province as a positive current trend, but one that is permanent.
“I think it’s a combination of having been through some really unprecedented growth, but more importantly it’s demographic,” he said. “We have so many new people in the province and it’s also demographic in that we now have a younger cohort of people here and, of course, the people born after the 1980s are more conversant with travel, they’re more conversant with change and I think generally the attitude isn’t going back.”
Of course, with the Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW) program dominating national news in recent weeks, Gormley—who has talked about TFWs on his daily radio show, John Gormley Live, and written about it in his weekly column for the Saskatoon Star Pheonix and Regina Leader-Post—addressed the issue with local media after his speech.
“I think everybody is clear, no Canadian should lose their job, but my concern is when you look at the labour shortages—15,000-plus jobs this week again on Saskjobs—if you’re waiting for young Canadians to fill fast food, hotel services jobs, they’re not going to be filled, so I think this is a really valuable program and I hope, if people are concerned about it, it isn’t for reasons that are based on discrimination, that are based on intolerance, because the new face of Saskatchewan is a new immigrant face that’s helping us build this place,” he said.
Don Reid, president of the Chamber, was pleased with the AGM and Gormley’s presentation.
“I think it was very good, because I think, John, what he does is he speaks to the attitude in the province and the general mindset that’s starting to take over the province which I think is a positive thing,” he said adding that he felt the membership was inspired.
“I know they’re business people so I think they’re inspired anyway, but what it does is it reinforces some of their thoughts and seeing their young people coming back is a positive thing for everyone.”