REGINA - Long-serving deputy premier and Finance Minister Ken Krawetz wiped a tear from his eye Monday after announcing that he won't run again in the next Saskatchewan election.
Krawetz, whose voice often boomed above others in the legislature, says retiring was a hard decision.
"My wife and I and family started talking about this a year ago and saying should we look at another four-year term starting in 2016. And for me, again with being as lucky as I am with my cardiac situation, I just want to move on to enjoying family," Krawetz said Monday at the legislature.
Since 1989, Krawetz says he has had four angioplasties and had triple heart bypass surgery in April 2000.
"I'm lucky. I'm very fortunate because I'm still here," he said.
Krawetz was first elected as the MLA for Canora-Pelly in 1995 as a Liberal.
But Krawetz changed the political landscape in 1997 when he joined three other Liberals and four Progressive Conservatives to form the Saskatchewan Party in 1997. He was leader of the Opposition until 1999.
The former teacher and school board official was named deputy premier and Education minister when the Saskatchewan Party won the 2007 election. He became Finance minister in 2010.
Krawetz says one of his proudest moment was winning that first election in 1995.
"I was not supposed to win. I did not receive a lot of support from the provincial organization at that time, but I was just told to do the best I could ... and I won that seat by 50 votes," he recalled.
Premier Brad Wall says Krawetz has been a pillar of the Saskatchewan Party and is "impossible to replace."
"But you know we talked about this, Ken and I did, and I knew that he'd been talking with (his wife) Gail for some time, for the last year or so and he's made his final decision now," Wall said.
"I would rather that he was running at least one more time, but I can completely understand that he would want to take some opportunity with family and maybe some other pursuits he's interested in after the next election."
Saskatchewan voters are expected to head to the polls in April 2016.
Wall made a major cabinet shuffle in 2010 when ministers announced that they weren't running in the 2011 provincial election. The idea was to raise the profile and experience of new ministers before the vote.
A cabinet shuffle will happen later this spring, but Wall says he has not decided if Krawetz will be replaced.
The premier says Krawetz has been "a very steady hand" while the government changed how it reported its budget. The government now reports on what is called a summary budget, which takes into account all areas of government, including Crown corporations.
It used to present a budget for the General Revenue Fund, but that just looked at operational spending and not the Crowns.
"I'll be loath to make a change. You know, you might see a situation where, at least for some short interim period we have, I ask Ken to continue to help us through this transition to summaries, but that's a decision I have to make," said Wall.