Former Sask. NDP ag critic won’t run again

A Saskatoon MLA who served a hitch as the provincial New Democrats’ agriculture critic plans not to seek re-election after what will be 25 years in the legislature.

Pat Atkinson, the MLA for Saskatoon Nutana since 1986 and the party’s ag critic from late 2007 to mid-2009, said Tuesday she won’t run in the next general election, scheduled for Nov. 7.

“As long as I have known her, Pat has been an excellent MLA, always putting the interests of the people of Saskatchewan first,” NDP leader Dwain Lingenfelter, who replaced Atkinson with himself as ag critic in June 2009, said Tuesday in a release.

“Her intelligence and sharp wit in the chamber have been matched only by her solid dedication to her constituents and her sound record as a cabinet minister of principle and substance.”

During her career, Atkinson served in the cabinets of premiers Roy Romanow and Lorne Calvert, including stints at various times as minister of finance, health, education, advanced education, highways and transportation, social services, employment and immigration and, from 2001 to 2003, rural revitalization.

Atkinson on Tuesday didn’t give a specific reason for her exit, nor did she discuss her own future plans, other than to say it’s “time for renewal in Saskatoon Nutana and a new beginning for me.”

A Saskatoon schoolteacher and principal before entering politics, Atkinson was raised on a family farm near Biggar, west of Saskatoon. She now serves as the NDP’s education critic.

“Our next candidate (in the riding) will inherit a strong organization, and I know she or he will be eager to canvass and campaign strongly before the next election in order to defeat Brad Wall and the Saskatchewan Party,” she said Tuesday.

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