Introduction of the Honourable Roy Romanow


19 February 2003

Good evening everyone, and welcome to the 6th Allan J. MacEachen Annual Lecture in Politics.

It is an honour to introduce a Canadian of great integrity and vision, a person who has dedicated his life to serving the citizens of his home province of Saskatchewan and the people of Canada, the Honourable Roy Romanow.

It is particularly fitting that Mr. Romanow is here to deliver the sixth Allan J. MacEachen Lecture Series. Tonight's topic is The Future of Healthcare in Canada. The subject is one that I know is near and dear to the heart of Mr. MacEachen, who of course was Minister of National Health and Welfare when the Medical Care Act was adopted in 1966.

Following Mr. Romanow's address, I do hope that we may be able to entice Mr. MacEachen to break tradition and make a few remarks.

Roy Romanow graduated from the University of Saskatchewan with a Bachelor of Arts Degree and later a Degree in Law.

He was first elected to the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly in 1967 and quickly gained the confidence of the people of Saskatchewan, being re-elected seven times.

Mr. Romanow served as Deputy Premier and Attorney General from 1971 to 1982. During those 11 years, he was responsible for a number of justice system reforms, including the introduction of a provincial legal aid plan; the creation of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission; the introduction of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code; and the creation of the Provincial Ombudsman’s Office.

As Saskatchewan’s first Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs he played a key role in the federal-provincial negotiations that resulted in the Constitutional Accord of November 1981. He co- authored a book on those negotiations, Canada Notwithstanding.

Roy Romanow was elected Premier of Saskatchewan during the general election of 1991, and served in that position until his retirement from the legislature in 2001.

As NDP premier of Saskatchewan, Roy Romanow introduced a number of fiscal, economic and social reforms. These included an expansion of the ground breaking Action Plan for Children, the introduction of the Building Independence strategy to help move families off social assistance, and enhancements to the provincial health care system.

Mr. Romanow was also one of the first premiers to achieve a balanced budget, during some of the most challenging economic times in this country.

As leader of the Government of Saskatchewan, Roy Romanow also established himself as a statesman of national reputation.

With a keen understanding of the issues facing our society and the wisdom to find solutions for the future, he has consistently acted to make a difference. During his time as premier, he was dedicated to upholding the legacy of Tommy Douglas with regard to the protection of Medicare, and to the provision of quality healthcare to the citizens of Saskatchewan.

After completing his mandate as Premier, Mr. Romanow in April 2001 was appointed a senior fellow in public policy at the University of Saskatchewan and the University of Regina. He is also a visiting fellow in the School of Policy at Queen’s University.

His retirement from political life was short lived when The Right Honourable Jean Chrétien asked him to chair the Commission on the Future of Health Care. His appointment was embraced with far-reaching approval, further demonstrating the level of respect and confidence that Canadians hold for this distinguished leader.

This is a very appropriate time for us to hear from Roy Romanow. We're living in a world of increasing turmoil and uncertainty. For Canadians, Roy Romanow stands tall as an example of an engaged citizen; someone who has worked tirelessly and with tremendous wisdom in service to his home province and Canada. His example illustrates the kind of citizen engagement needed to guide us through difficult times.

The destiny of every country and every society depends in large measure on individuals committed to positive change, people giving of themselves for the betterment of their community. Our speaker tonight continues to do just that.

Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in extending a warm StFX welcome to the Honourable Roy Romanow.


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