Grant Devine

Grant Devine

Donald Grant Devine (born July 5, 1944) was the Progressive Conservative Premier of the Canadian province of Saskatchewan from May 8, 1982 to November 1, 1991.

Early life

Born in Regina, Saskatchewan, he received a B.Sc. in Agriculture degree specializing in Agricultural Economics in 1967 from the University of Saskatchewan, an M.Sc. specializing in Agricultural Economics in 1969 from the University of Alberta, an M.B.A. from the University of Alberta in 1970, and a Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics from Ohio State University in 1976.

A farmer, teacher and agricultural economist, Devine taught at the University of Saskatchewan in the 1970s before entering politics.

Political career

Although he was defeated during 1978 election in a Saskatoon seat, he was elected leader of the provincial Progressive Conservative Party in 1979. He lost a 1980 by-election in Estevan in a three-way split in which each party received more than 27 percent of the vote.

Devine won election to the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan in the 1982 general election that brought him and 54 other Progressive Conservatives to power. Only a rump of the long-ruling New Democratic Party (NDP) were left as opposition. Devine thus became the first Progressive Conservative premier of Saskatchewan and the first Conservative politician to hold the office since James T.M. Anderson formed a coalition government in 1929.

Devine's government divested several state-owned enterprises, made initial public offerings of others, introduced reforms to labour law and welfare programs.

Devine instituted royalty holidays for new wells drilled from June 1, 1982 to the end of 1983, as well at a 30 per cent tax reduction on older wells from 1974 on, and other tax breaks were offered to the industry. This was expected to cost the province $35 million, but lost revenue would be made up via increased exploration. However, one important reason according to some for the growth in the industry was the drilling for natural gas, which had more to do an election promise to expand gas service to rural areas, instead of with the tax breaks offered.

Devine governed during some of the worst droughts since the "dirty thirties". The price of oil and agricultural commodities collapsed. In the end, the high cost of government mortgage rate reduction policies during 19 per-cent interest rates and his agricultural rescue policies resulted in a large deficit. The year Devine came to government the provincial GDP only grew 0.6 per cent, down from 20.9 per cent growth the previous year. [ [ Comparisons of Gross Domestic Product - Saskatchewan and Canada] (.PDF file)] Since then Saskatchewan has had routinely less than 10 per cent growth in GDP.

His government was re-elected in the 1986 election, although his NDP opponents won a plurality of votes.

Devine's government was defeated in the 1991 election after two terms in power. The PC party was reduced to ten seats in the legislature.

Although Devine himself was never implicated in any criminal wrongdoing, several members of his caucus were convicted of fraud relating to expense accounts that occurred during Devine's second term from 1986-1991. ["Devine gov't left behind sorry political legacy", Martin O'Hanlon, Star-Phoenix, Saskatoon, Sask., Feb 27, 1999. pg. A.6] [ [ "Saskatchewan Tories in Fraud Scandal: Greed is Good", Brian Bergman with Dale Eisler, Maclean's Magazine, Nov 18, 1996.] ]

In 2004, Devine announced his intention to return to politics and run for the federal Conservative Party of Canada, ["Former Saskatchewan premier launches comeback bid", Barb Pacholik & James Wood, The Vancouver Sun, Vancouver, B.C., Jan 21, 2004. pg. A.7] but the party ruled he was an undesirable candidate, and denied him the right to seek a nomination. ["Conservatives quash Devine bid", Sean Gordon, National Post, Don Mills, Ont., Feb 20, 2004. pg. A.10] On May 7, Devine announced that he would run as an independent candidate in the 2004 federal election for the riding of Souris—Moose Mountain. Consequently, Devine was expelled from the Conservative Party on June 8 by the party's executive council. Despite the ruling, Devine continued to enjoy the public support of Conservative Deputy leader Peter MacKay. The former Premier finished the election second to Conservative Ed Komarnicki. Devine received 8,399 votes (29.42% of the popular vote).


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