"I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him."
- Marc Antony, Julius Caesar, Act III Scene II
As I thought about what one should say about Brad Wall, on this the day of his last sitting in the legislature, I found myself repeating the line above in my head. The context of that line is markedly different than what one will find here; for Antony, it was an opening to contradict himself and indeed praise Caesar's virtues and spur on vengeance against the conspirators who slew the "ambitious" Caesar. For me, we will drop the subtext and stick simply to the words: This post will not be flattering or fawning; instead, without any hint of double meaning, I do indeed mean it when I say that the purpose of this post serves to bury Wall's legacy, not praise it or him.
While many will offer at least some positive remark to say about Wall on his way out the door, I find myself struggling to do so, and quite likely will not be able to muster any sort of glowing word. Some will say that regardless of the man, what matters is the fact that he stood in service. However; I find myself asking in retort: Service of who?
It certainly was not in service to future generations; who have received short shrift by the butchering of education funding budget after budget during Wall's tenure.
It certainly was not in service to young adults; who saw the province's tuition freeze lifted and now live in a province with the second highest tuition fees in the country.
It certainly was not in service to households; who were taxed by stealth, with every passing SaskPower rate increase, generated predominantly by Wall's blind vision of making C02 Capture work (it didn't, it hasn't, and the Magic 8 Ball continues to serve up "All signs point to no" when asked.) Not to mention, of course, the addition of PST to many goods and services that previously had been exempted from the provincial tax.
It certainly was not in service to seniors; who were often affected by the increased cost of living in the province, and were targeted by changes to determining provincial benefits based on OAS benefits and other changes.
It certainly was not to rural people; who lost a a valuable connection to the rest of the province with the shuttering of STC.
I could go on and make the whole post nothing more than this, but I think it proves my point. To simply try and remove the man from the accomplishments, or lack thereof, is a disservice. Wall's service, based on his actions, was not to the people of Saskatchewan. As such, it is hollow to stand and pat him on the back for his "service" to the province; especially when the case seems to argue that he was more of a hindrance to the province over anything else.
Which brings us to the retort that most fall upon when struggling to find anything good about Wall's time in office: The Boom.
I say this with sincerity: A gorilla with a calculator could have managed the boom as well as Wall did. By which I mean, Wall's credit for the boom is vastly overplayed; given that the boom had started prior to his ascendancy to the Premiership.
Any party; from Liberals to the NDP, could have managed the boom without screwing it up. Wall was simply in the office at the right time; nothing more and nothing less.
On top of that, while Wall did not bring in any policies that might have impacted the boom negatively...He didn't do much to impact it positively either. His approach was simply hands off; and that leads to us the perhaps the simplest phrase that Wall himself was fond of using, and that perfectly defines the legacy Wall leaves behind: Now is not the time.
From creating a sovereign wealth fund to an actual plan to combat climate change, Wall's mantra was "now is not the time". For every problem, Wall's response was always some version of this answer. It's the political equivalent of "letting the chips fall where they may". If things worked themselves out, then Wall could claim he was justified in doing nothing.
But more often, when things didn't work out or didn't resolve them self, Wall would double down on his mantra and dig in his heels. That stubborn, narrow-minded lack of vision is not a leadership trait that should be admired nor replicated; but sadly, it seems many in the race to replace him are keen to do just that.
Wall's last legacy is that he will likely become a case study of "what not to do" when another province finds itself in a similar boom situation; along with the ignoble honour of being yet another right-wing Premier who led this province down a disastrous path that led to economic ruin and will result in decades of us fighting to keep the wolves from the door.
Perhaps, at some future date there may be some kind words to say about Brad Wall's tenure. But to sum it up in a phrase he'd approve of: Now is not the time.