Regina-area rancher Lyle Stewart, a former Saskatchewan Party agriculture critic, has been named Saskatchewan's new agriculture minister in a near-complete cabinet shuffle.
Premier Brad Wall's shuffle on Friday marks a return to cabinet for Stewart, who represents the riding of Thunder Creek and farms and ranches with his family at Pense, about 30 km west of Regina.
Stewart replaces Melville-Saltcoats MLA Bob Bjornerud, who had been ag minister since 2007 and announced in March that he would step down from cabinet the next time it was shuffled.
Stewart was an early member of the Saskatchewan Party and was a councilor in the Rural Municpality of Pense (1998-99) before his election to the legislature in 1999.
While in opposition, Stewart served in various critic portfolios including agriculture, economic development and industry and resources. He also served briefly as interim party leader in 2004 after Elwin Hermanson's departure from the post.
After the Saskatchewan Party won government in 2007, Stewart served a stint as minister for enterprise and innovation.
Before Friday's shuffle, he was deputy chair of the legislative standing committee on public accounts and the caucus standing committee on intergovernmental affairs and justice, and a member of the legislative standing committee on intergovernmental affairs.
Stewart will also be minister responsible for Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corp., and as ag minister will be responsible for files including the provincial Agricultural Credit Corp., Agricultural Implements Board, Farm Land Security Board, Lands Appeal Board and Prairie Agricultural Machinery Institute.
Other provincial cabinet appointments of importance to farmers include Saskatoon MLA Ken Cheveldayoff as environment minister and minister responsible for SaskWater, and Indian Head-Milestone MLA Don McMorris as minister of highways and infrastructure.
Randy Weekes, a former director with the Saskatchewan Cattle Feeders Association and the backbench MLA for Biggar since 1999, joins cabinet as minister responsible for rural and remote health, a new portfolio within the health ministry.
Wall's shuffle also includes the creation of a new "ministry of the economy," with Kindersley MLA, party co-founder and pedigreed seed grower Bill Boyd as its first minister.
The new ministry is expected to oversee "a number of economic functions of the government," including the previous portfolios of Enterprise Saskatchewan, Innovation Saskatchewan, Tourism Saskatchewan, employment, immigration, trade, energy and resources.
Boyd also remains minister responsible for SaskPower and the Regina-based Global Transportation Hub.
The shuffle also includes the creation of a new government agency, SaskBuilds, to lead planning, design, funding and implementation of "significant" infrastructure projects for the government and "third-party projects" such as schools and hospitals. McMorris will oversee the new agency.
Another new ministry, Central Services, will manage government operations, replacing the ministry of government services. Martensville MLA Nancy Heppner will be the minister responsible.
Sask. ag minister to step down from cabinet,
March 14, 2012