POLITICS

Veteran Saskatchewan MLA Yogi Huyghebaert says he won't run again in 2016

02/26/2014 10:48 EST | Updated 04/28/2014 05:59 EDT
REGINA - Former Saskatchewan corrections minister and veteran MLA Yogi Huyghebaert says it's time to call it a career.

The 69-year-old says he will not run in the next provincial election expected in April 2016.

"I just felt now that after four terms, it's time to move on and let somebody else carry the flag for Wood River," Huyghebaert said Wednesday at the legislature.

Huyghebaert was first elected in a byelection in Wood River in 2000. He was re-elected in 2003, 2007 and 2011.

Leaving was a tough choice, he said.

"It's always difficult. I have an awful lot of friends here and they will remain friends, but to see them on a regular basis is going to be difficult, so that's always a difficult choice," he said.

Huyghebaert served as the minister of corrections, public safety and policing from May 2009 to May 2012.

Before going into politics, he was a pilot with the Royal Canadian Air Force, serving in Germany as a squadron pilot and later flying with the Snowbirds. He is also the provincial government's military liaison.

"Many improvements happened while Yogi was in cabinet," Premier Brad Wall said.

"Yogi led the changes in the provincial disaster assistance program, where we dramatically increased the coverage for homes, dramatically increased the coverage for farm loss, for business loss and dramatically decreased the deductible from 20 per cent to five per cent."

Wall said Huyghebaert also reformed policies about contact with inmates that reduced drug use in correctional facilities.

"I'm always going to be grateful to Yogi for his leadership in the party, for his service as an MLA, his representation of the constituents ... and also as a friend and as someone who hasn't been afraid to give me advice."

Huyghebaert said he'll continue to serve as MLA for Wood River until the next election.