The unexpected retirement announcement by Lumsden-Morse MLA Lyle Stewart has Moose Jaw’s two provincial politicians reflecting on their relationship with a colleague who wholeheartedly supported the province’s agriculture industry.
Stewart announced on March 6, during the first day of the Legislature’s spring sitting, that he would step down after 23.5 years in provincial politics. He cited health-related reasons for his resignation; his final day was March 10.
“I have been living with prostate cancer for a number of years now, but unfortunately, my condition has worsened in recent weeks to the point that I can no longer do this job to the standard I expect of myself and that my constituents deserve,” Stewart said in a news release that the Saskatchewan Party issued.
“It has been the honour of my life to represent the people of Lumsden-Morse and Thunder Creek as their MLA for the past 23 and a half years. It has also been an honour to work with the two best and most successful leaders in Canada – Premier Brad Wall and Premier Scott Moe.”
Tim McLeod, MLA for Moose Jaw-North, told the Express it was “an incredible honour” to work with Stewart, who was instrumental in leading several files for the government and was a hard worker for his constituents and Saskatchewanians in general.
“I’ve been incredibly blessed to work with him and share office space with him in Moose Jaw and am very sorry to see him go, but wish him all the best,” McLeod said.
Stewart mentored McLeod in many ways because after the latter was elected in 2020, they moved into the same office in Moose Jaw-North. The veteran influenced the rookie by showing him the ropes of the job and teaching him more about a politician’s life.
“I can’t thank him enough for all that he’s done for me personally,” McLeod added.
Greg Lawrence, MLA for Moose Jaw-Wakamow, said when he was first elected in 2011, the newer politicians were assigned veteran mentors — and Stewart was attached to him.
The mentor-mentee travelled several times together, while the then-rookie politician picked his mentor’s brain about various topics since he had much experience.
One memory that has stuck with Lawrence about Stewart is the latter’s commitment and passion for the province, especially farmers and ranchers.
“Being one himself, he … intimately had knowledge about that stuff. And he wasn’t afraid to share that and fight for our farmers and ranchers anytime, whether it was the federal government or cross-border issues … ,” added Lawrence. “And I was humbled and honoured to work with him.”
Stewart was one of the first members of the Saskatchewan Party and was first elected in 1999. He first represented the Thunder Creek Constituency, while he has represented the party ever since for the Lumsden-Morse riding.
He previously served as Saskatchewan’s agriculture minister but stepped down to focus on his battle with cancer. Recently, he was Premier Scott Moe’s legislative secretary responsible for provincial autonomy.
Standing in the chamber, Stewart said he intended to complete the term, but his health condition meant he had to resign sooner than expected.
“I need to spend more of the time that I have left with my grandchildren and my dear friend, Juanita,” Stewart told his political colleagues. “Many of the members who sit in these seats are among my best and most trusted friends. I hope to keep up these relationships. So, goodbye for now.”
The premier later thanked Stewart for his years contributing to the government and the province.