Sask. NDP leader named party’s ag critic

A former Saskatchewan agriculture minister who’s now his party’s leader has named himself the party’s critic on agriculture issues.

Dwain Lingenfelter, who served a relatively short stint as agriculture minister (1999-2000) while serving as deputy premier (1995-2000) in Roy Romanow’s NDP government, on Tuesday appointed himself as critic for agriculture, Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corp. and executive council.

Lingenfelter, who won the party’s leadership last week, has yet to return to the provincial legislature, but plans to seek the nomination to run in the Regina riding of Douglas Park before the next scheduled election in 2011. The riding’s longtime MLA, Harry Van Mulligen, announced last week he wouldn’t seek re-election.

Lingenfelter, who as ag critic would face the Saskatchewan Party’s ag minister Bob Bjornerud in the legislature, was raised on a family farm at Shaunavon, Sask., about 100 km southwest of Swift Current, and continued his involvement in the farming operation through 22 years as an NDP MLA.

He remained involved in the cropping and cattle operation also after quitting politics in 2000 to take a post as vice-president of government relations for Calgary oil, gas and power company Nexen Inc.

As an MLA, he served as Allan Blakeney’s social services minister (1980-82) until Grant Devine’s 1982 Tory sweep. Under Romanow, he became economic development minister (1991-96) and minister for the Crown Investments Corp. (1996-99).

Lingenfelter is also a past president of the Canada Arab Business Council, former board member of the Nature Conservancy of Canada, and current member of the Mexico-Canada Energy Working Group Committee.

As ag critic he replaces long-time Saskatoon NDP MLA Pat Atkinson, who had managed the ag file since late 2007. Atkinson, who served as education minister (1993-98) and advanced education minister (2006-07) in previous NDP governments, will now handle the education file in the NDP’s shadow cabinet.

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