There was no shortage of accolades and gentle jabs for the person known as “one of the most recognizable faces of the Saskatchewan Party” during a farewell dinner in June Draude’s honour on Feb. 28.
Held in Wadena and in spite of some tricky road conditions, about 100 people arrived to say farewell officially to Draude, who has served the Kelvington-Wadena constituency since 1995.
In his tribute, Ken Krawetz said he first met Draude after he listened to “this feisty individual deliver a speech.” He credited Draude with being one of the most responsible members of the legislative assembly, as well as a role model for many people.
“I’m not afraid of much but I’m afraid of June Draude,” he joked, explaining that when he was finance minister and Draude had her mind made up about getting funding for a project, she had a reputation for being relentless. The answer to his problem, said Krawetz, was to appoint her to the Treasury Board.
He praised Draude for her wisdom and foresight in helping to build the Saskatchewan Party, for serving “so diligently” on the Treasury Board and for her “passion in serving the people of Saskatchewan.”
Although unable to attend, Premier Brad Wall sent a message, which was read by Bonnie Wallin, emcee for the evening.
“Our responsibility is to take care of those who can’t take care of themselves; this was always June’s doctrine,” wrote Premier Wall. “June is the heart of the Saskatchewan Party.” He thanked her for her many years of service.
Legislative colleague and also one of the founding members of the Saskatchewan Party, Bob Bjornerud, reflected on how Draude always competed with him for funds while she was social services minister and he the agriculture minister, but it was her “softer” side that he highlighted.
“Without June, there probably would be no Saskatchewan Party,” said Bjornerud. “June brought the softer side and respect with the original seven guys. The province owes you a big debt for all you have done.”
Kevin Doherty, currently serving as the minister of finance, called Draude a “trailblazer.”
“She took it upon herself to mentor me as to what to do as a cabinet minister and how to behave around the cabinet table,” said Doherty. She also reminded us to recognize those who came before us, he said.
Draude was one of the original eight who were instrumental in forming the Saskatchewan Party in 1997, along with four former Conservative MLAs, Dan D’Autremont, Bill Boyd, Ben Heppner and Don Toth, and three of her Liberal colleagues, Ken Krawetz, Bob Bjornerud and Rod Gantefoer. She was first elected to the legislature in 1995 and was re-elected for four subsequent terms in the Kelvington-Wadena constituency. While in opposition early in her career, Draude served in several areas including: critic for First Nations and Métis Affairs; chair of the legislature’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts; and member of the legislature’s Special Committee to Prevent the Abuse and Exploitation of Children through the Sex Trade.
She has served as Minister of Social Services; Minister Responsible for the Saskatchewan Housing Corporation; Minister Responsible for the Status of Women; Minister Responsible for Crown Investments Corporation, Information Technology Office, Information Services Corporation, Saskatchewan Government Insurance, First Nations and Métis Affairs; and Minister Responsible for Public Service Commission.
As well as sitting on the Treasury Board, Draude also served as Provincial Secretary.
Regardless of the colour of politics voters support, June Draude will remain one of the “most recognizable faces” in Saskatchewan history.
By Alison Squires