Why You Need To Care About The Sask Party Leadership Race (And What To Do About It)

If you live in Saskatchewan, I am sure you have heard the news that our Premier, Brad Wall, has announced his impending retirement, and the search is on for the new leader of the Saskatchewan Party. 

I don’t know about you, and perhaps it’s a result of my age, but I have never taken an active part in party (any political party) politics before. I’ve always seen party leadership races as something for the super engaged politico’s to deal with. Something for “those in the know” to decide. 

This leadership race is very, very different. This leadership race is unlike any other in modern Saskatchewan history. You see, our vote in the Saskatchewan Party leadership race is not only deciding the future leader of the party. It is not only deciding the face of one single party. THIS leadership race, this party election, will determine Saskatchewan’s next Premier. So, for Saskatchewanians, whether you vote in this race or not, whether you feel “in the know” or have been watching with slight, side eye interest, the results of this election WILL be the leader of not only the Saskatchewan Party, but also of our entire province. When you realize this, you will also realize just how important it is to have your say, insert your influence, by taking the opportunity to vote. 

So how do you vote? 

The only requirement to voting is very simple – purchase a membership to the Saskatchewan Party. This is not a life long commitment, you are not signing away your first born child, or even committing a vote for their party in the next general election. To have your say in who our next Premier is, all you need is a simple $10 membership. But here is the kicker – YOU NEED TO PURCHASE YOUR MEMBERSHIP BEFORE DECEMBER 8th!!! 

How to buy a membership? It’s easy!! Click right HERE, and it will take you right to the page on the Saskatchewan Party’s website where you can purchase one. 

Another little known tidbit – your kids can vote too!! There are Youth Memberships available for people aged 14–18, and their memberships are only $5. 

Then what? 

Voting will happen later in January. A ballot will be sent to your mailing address for you to fill out and send back to the party. It is not the same as a general election. In this case, you get to vote for more than one candidate. This is a preferential ballot – where you not only get to choose your top choice, but also your second, third, and fourth, choice (and so on), if you so choose. 

I have been very vocal in my support of Alanna Koch. She is someone who has inspired me for many years. Not only is she a strong, fiscal conservative, but she also brings balance to the equation. She understands that the reason we need a strong, vibrant business and investment friendly province, is to provide the backing for equally vibrant and efficient social service sectors, which allow the people of Saskatchewan to have the comfortable standard of living that we deserve. 

Having worked with Alanna in the past, she is someone who seeks to understand. Long before this leadership race, she made a point of touring our ranch in order to learn more about parts of agriculture she wasn’t as close to. She wanted to know more, and that is something you don’t often see outside of a leadership or political race. 

Alanna is a solutions based leader. In her work as Deputy Minister of Agriculture, as well as Deputy Minister to the Premier, she is someone who finds solutions, and will forge a path forward once the right solution is found. In short, she is an inspiration and, I believe, the right person to be our next Premier. 

I encourage you to have a look at each of the candidates, see who speaks to you, and buy a membership. Again, if you do not have a memebership by December 8th, you will not have a say in our next Premier. This may just be your most important purchase in December….

Balancing Leadership in Agriculture Requires Many Solutions


Recently an Agriculture Commentator, Kevin Hursh, from right here in Saskatchewan, sparked a heated debate with a tweet commenting on what women need to do in agriculture. 

The quote he tweeted about was from Jen Christie, a respected woman in Ontario Agriculture. She was speaking at an event by Chatelaine Magazine, and was explaining the dynamics of board leadership in agriculture. 

This same tweet prompted a great discussion between myself and my husband. Aaron sits on many boards. He was asked to sit on every one of them them by experienced board members and executives. We listed off many of the (male) board members that we know. They were all asked to sit on boards. The local director for our Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association was first asked to run for that board. I have never been asked to sit on a board. The very long list of my confident, accomplished female friends have never been asked to sit on boards. This was a pretty simple light bulb moment for both of us. Board members need to be aware and look for great future board members of BOTH genders. It was a great discussion, one that Mr. Hursh did not seem to find in that quote. 

After receiving many questions and objections on Twitter, he then continued expanding on this opinion in a piece for a mainstream newspaper. Read it here

Over the course of the past week, I have written, then deleted, a snarky tweet response to Mr. Hursh at least a dozen times. I believed that a public spat over Twitter would do little good for myself, women in agriculture, or the industry as a whole. But upon reading his very public expansion, using terms such as victim mentality, I could no longer remain quiet. 

Since Kevin is (very obviously) not a woman in agriculture, I though that perhaps he could benefit from some context of what being a woman in today’s Ag industry actually looks like. Allow me to share some stories. 

A woman is told that the retail she is managing will quickly go to hell with a woman running the place – they would have been better with a toddler manager. The three other men in the office laugh and laugh, and comment that perhaps she best run the fertilizer blender in a skirt and heels. In the best interest of keeping the customers happy, of course. 

A man quietly walks (sneaks?) into a woman’s office while her back is turned to the door. He grabs her shoulders and proceeds to move his hands towards her chest. He is surprised at her anger, and makes comments about her need to “keep her customers happy” and to “not make trouble.”.

A woman is demoted for taking the standard maternity leave that the law affords her. With no warning and no discussion she is moved from a sales rep to a junior associate. 

A woman is at a commodity group meeting. She is told by three different men how odd it is that she is at the meeting instead of her husband. Would she not have been better off caring for the children so that he could be there? 

Do you think that these are isolated occurrences? Are these old school instances that no longer happen? Well, let me fill you in on a little secret. They were all me. Every single one. I am a woman in agriculture, and, at under forty, a fairly young one at that. That last example? It was last week. 

Now, perhaps you will think that by sharing these stories, I am falling into the “victim mentality” that Kevin referred to. I almost wish he had experienced a close up of his posterior posted on Ag Twitter to be examined and measured, as did a horrified young female summer student I spoke with last year. Perhaps he would understand that the hesitation to step up often has nothing to do with “victim mentality.”

The truth is that I have never spoken of these before. I have not complained or tattled, whined or whinged. I took each incidence for what it was, and made sure to make the best of each one. Sometimes you can laugh it off. Sometimes a fuss must be made. 

I know that I am not alone in these experiences. Just as I know that they have not ceased to occur. These instances, and my response to them, are experiences that I can share with younger women. Women who may not have my confidence, or my network to fall back on. 

Of Kevin’s opinion piece, I can point out some glaring mistakes. He did not get pulled into this discussion. He inserted himself into it, after reading a single tweet that he had no context behind. His generalization that “many women just aren’t interested in rural municipal politics or one of the many crop commissions” is pretty far off base, in my slightly more expert opinion. The women that I talk to are very interested. They are struggling to see the path onto many of these boards, for a multitude of reasons. 

I had the confidence to tell the grey hairs that I deserved to attend our regional meeting. I can only imagine their shock if I ran for a position. Fear of failure is not a reason to hold back, but it is a wall that needs to be climbed in order to move forward. Climbing such walls takes time, and an incredible amount of confidence. Kevin believes that these barriers are based on perception not reality, yet they still seem to leave a mark when we run ourselves into them. 

Mr. Hursh, I would like to believe that your intention was to inspire women to step up, rather than to tear down events and organizations that many women see value in, but let me assure you, that message was lost in your condescension. 

So here I am, as a confident, competent woman in agriculture, telling you, Kevin Hursh, that you do not get to tell me what it is that I need. There are many areas that I could learn from you and your valuable experience, but the struggles of being a woman is not one of them. 

Women and their personal experiences are as diverse as this amazing industry is. There is no one right answer in creating more balanced leadership. What does not help is bashing options. I, myself, have not attended many women focussed Ag events, but I would never belittle them as an option for those who seek their value. 

It is in the best interest of agriculture as a whole, for our boards and commissions to be diverse in both opinions and gender. It is a problem that they are currently not. Many issues require many solutions, but let’s all try to be part of the solution rather than the grey haired problem. 

Cattlemen’s Young Leaders 

This summer I was contacted by the Cattlemen’s Young Leaders (CYL) committee asking if I would be interested in acting as a mentor in their program. This is an amazing program that aims to create leaders in our top young cattle producers through training, experiences and mentorship.

Although I did not know who my Mentee would be, I was given a list of her goals and objectives to get out of the program, and I was struck by how closely they followed the issues and obstacles that Aaron and I had overcome over the past 15 years on the ranch. Grazing plans, agvocacy, succession planning, and the process of building a cow herd from the ground up were all topics we have spent the past decade focusing the better part of our brains on.

Aaron and I already spend a significant amount of time volunteering for both local organizations and provincial Ag associations, so our first reaction to the mentor request was, “how can we possibly fit this in as well?” But we saw the value in passing along not only our successes, but maybe more importantly, our failures. Although we had a strong network of peers, and were extremely fortunate in coming from incredible farming families whom we learnt a lot from, we never had formal mentors. We see the value in mentorship to the Canadian Beef Industry. In our eyes, the communication of knowledge is one of the greatest barriers within our industry. So without knowing a lot about the program, we took the plunge and took on the challenge.

  
Our Mentee, Angela Kumlin, has impressed us with her intelligence and drive. Our time spent with her has been extremely productive and rewarding. I won’t give away too much of her journey, as I have asked her to write a guest post for this blog. Read about her experience here.

For more info on the Cattlemen’s Young Leaders program look here, or follow them on Twitter at @CYLProgram