Allan Blakeney

Allan Emrys Blakeney PC OC SOM QC FRSC (September 7, 1925 – April 16, 2011) was the tenth Premier of Saskatchewan from 1971 to 1982, and leader of the Saskatchewan New Democratic Party (NDP).[1]

Allan Blakeney

Blakeney in 2009
10th Premier of Saskatchewan
In office
June 30, 1971 – May 8, 1982
MonarchElizabeth II
Lieutenant GovernorStephen Worobetz
George Porteous
Irwin McIntosh
Preceded byRoss Thatcher
Succeeded byGrant Devine
Leader of the Opposition
In office
July 4, 1970 – June 30, 1971
Preceded byWoodrow Lloyd
Succeeded byDavid Steuart
In office
May 8, 1982 – November 7, 1987
Preceded byEric Berntson
Succeeded byRoy Romanow
Member of the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan
In office
June 8, 1960 – April 22, 1964
Preceded byClarence Melvin Fines
Succeeded byDistrict divided
ConstituencyRegina City
Member of the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan
In office
April 22, 1964 – October 11, 1967
Serving with Marjorie Cooper
Preceded byDistrict divided
Succeeded byDistrict abolished
ConstituencyRegina West
Member of the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan
In office
October 11, 1967 – June 11, 1975
Preceded byDistrict created
Succeeded byDistrict renamed
ConstituencyRegina Centre
Member of the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan
In office
June 11, 1975 – March 21, 1988
Preceded byDistrict renamed
Succeeded byDwain Lingenfelter
ConstituencyRegina Elphinstone
President of the New Democratic Party
In office
Preceded byJames Renwick
Succeeded byDonald C. MacDonald
Personal details
Allan Emrys Blakeney

(1925-09-07)September 7, 1925
Bridgewater, Nova Scotia
DiedApril 16, 2011(2011-04-16) (aged 85)
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Political partyNew Democratic Party
Spouse(s)Anne Gorham

Early life and careerEdit

Born in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, Blakeney took his law degree at Dalhousie Law School, and was a Rhodes Scholar at Queen's College, Oxford, where he played for the Oxford University Ice Hockey Club.[1]

On returning to Canada, he became a senior civil servant in Saskatchewan before he entered politics in 1960 and represented part of Regina. He would represent a Regina-based riding without interruption until his retirement in 1988.

Blakeney served as a cabinet minister in the governments of Tommy Douglas and Woodrow S. Lloyd until the government was defeat in 1964.[1] As minister of health, he played a crucial role in the introduction of Medicare.[2][3]

In 1969, Blakeney was elected national president of the New Democratic Party of Canada and succeeded James Renwick.[4]

NDP leaderEdit

In 1970, Blakeney succeeded Lloyd as leader of the Saskatchewan NDP, which was then in opposition. Historically, his election as leader has been interpreted as a victory of the provincial NDP's "establishment" over the left-wing Waffle faction because Lloyd was trying to move the party more to the left and supported the Waffle Manifesto at the October 1969 federal NDP convention in Winnipeg.[5] As well, Lloyd backed the Waffle's right to debate issues after the convention, which disturbed many of his MLAs, who eventually forced him to resign in March 1970.[5]


In the 1971 provincial election, Blakeney led the party to power and defeated Ross Thatcher's Liberal government.

Blakeney's government practiced state-led economic intervention in the economy.

The farmers were a high priority, as globalization began transforming agriculture and weakened the traditional family farm through consolidation, mechanization, and corporatization. The NDP promised a "revitalized rural Saskatchewan," and Blakeney's introduced programs to stabilize crop prices, retain transportation links, and modernize rural life. Looking back, he lamented the gradual conversion of Saskatchewan's family farms into larger agricultural ventures: without resorting to the "very high costs" and "billions of dollars" that preserved family farming in Europe and the United States, "[w]e were, it seems, King Canute trying to hold back the tide."[6]

His government created a crown corporation in the potash industry in an attempt to further diversify the province's agrarian economy and threatened the expropriation of private potash mines in the province.[7] Blakeney pointed out that the sums paid for the mines were slightly in excess of their appraised "book" value. However, the mere threat of expropriation created a political firestorm that involved even the US government.[8]

Blakeney also created a state-owned oil and gas corporation, SaskOil, to handle oil exploration and production.[7] The private oil industry had essentially abandoned Saskatchewan after the NDP's policy of imposing extremely-high royalty rates in the early 1970s. Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau's policies to centralize control in Ottawa outraged Blakeney, and he moved closer to Alberta's position of open hostility.

Blakeney joined Alberta Progressive Conservative Premier Peter Lougheed in a fight for provincial rights over minerals, oil, and gas.[7][9]

Blakeney played an important role in the federal-provincial negotiations that led to the 1982 patriation of the Canadian constitution.[7]

Later careerEdit

Blakeney's government was defeated in the 1982 provincial election, its attempt to win a fourth successive term, being defeated by the Progressive Conservative Party, led by Grant Devine.[7] The NDP lost 35 of its 44 seats, then the third-worst defeat of a sitting government in the province's history. The party was cut down to only nine seats, its smallest presence in the legislature since its first election in 1934 (as the Saskatchewan CCF).

Once in opposition, Blakeney continued to lead the party up to the 1986 provincial election. The NDP not only regained much of what it had lost in its severe beating of four years earlier but also gained more votes overall than Devine's Progressive Conservatives.[7] However, much of that margin was wasted on landslide margins in Regina and Saskatoon, which left the NDP eight seats short of regaining power. Blakeney resigned in 1987 and was be succeeded by Roy Romanow.

On April 30, 1992, he was appointed as an Officer of the Order of Canada for his work as Premier of Saskatchewan, his enormous contribution to the field of public administration, and a key player in introducing the first comprehensive public medical health care plan in Canada.[2] In 2000, he was awarded the Saskatchewan Order of Merit. In 2001, he was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. Blakeney was also a past president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

As a private citizen, Blakeney served as a consultant to the Romanow government in the 1990s, when it sold the SaskOil to Occidental Petroleum. Blakeney then served on the board of directors of the successor corporation.


Blakeney died on April 16, 2011 at his home in Saskatoon of complications from cancer.[3][10]

Federal NDP leader Jack Layton dedicated the rest of his federal election campaign to Blakeney, who died about halfway through the campaign.[11] About 600 people attended his memorial, including federal NDP leaders Jack Layton and Ed Broadbent, former provincial premiers Roy Romanow, Lorne Calvert, Peter Lougheed, Ed Schreyer, Bill Davis, and Bob Rae, as well as then Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall.[12]


  1. ^ a b c Gruending, Dennis. "Blakeney, Allan E. (1925—)". The Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan. University of Regina. Archived from the original on January 30, 2010. Retrieved December 12, 2009.
  2. ^ a b Rideau Hall (April 30, 2009). "Allan Emrys Blakeney, P.C., O.C., S.O.M., Q.C., M.A., D.C.L." Honours, Order of Canada. Governor General of Canada. Retrieved 2009-12-12.
  3. ^ a b "Former Saskatchewan premier Allan Blakeney dies of cancer". The Globe and Mail. April 16, 2011. Retrieved September 18, 2014.
  4. ^ "Moderate elected president; Watkins joins executive", The Globe and Mail, Nov 1, 1969
  5. ^ a b McLeod & McLeod, p.359
  6. ^ Allan Blakeney, An Honourable Calling: Political Memoirs (2008) pp. 5, 125
  7. ^ a b c d e f Gruending, Dennis (2006). "Blakeney, Allan E. (1925—)". The Encyclopaedia of Saskatchewan. University of Regina. Archived from the original on 2010-01-30. Retrieved 2009-12-12.
  8. ^ Blakeney, An Honourable Calling: Political Memoirs pp. 156-62
  9. ^ Blakeney, An Honourable Calling: Political Memoirs p. 5
  10. ^ CBC News (April 16, 2011). "Allan Blakeney, former Sask. premier, dies". Retrieved April 16, 2011.
  11. ^ Former Sask. Premier Allan Blakeney dies of cancer, Opposition leader says Archived 2011-04-19 at the Wayback Machine The Canadian Press, April 16, 2011. Retrieved April 16, 2011.
  12. ^ Former Saskatchewan premier Allan Blakeney remembered as great statesman Archived 2011-05-18 at the Wayback Machine The Canadian Press, May 6, 2011. Retrieved May 7, 2011.