John Nilson to retire as an MLA at next provincial election

John Nilson – who has served as a cabinet minister, attorney general and leader of the Opposition – will retire as a Member of the Legislative Assembly at the next provincial election.

“John has been a strong and steady presence for the families of Regina Lakeview and the people of Saskatchewan, as well our team here at the Legislature,” said NDP Leader Cam Broten. “He has always brought to the job an abundance of common sense, a wealth of knowledge about issues as well as our province's people and history, an unwavering commitment to fairness for Saskatchewan families, and a passion for the arts, literature and poetry.

“John's contributions to Saskatchewan are many and I have no doubt that he will continue making important contributions to our province and the global community long after he retires as an MLA."

Nilson was first elected as the MLA for Regina Lakeview in 1995. He was appointed minister of justice and attorney general on Nov. 22, 1995. He became minister of health in February 2001, and served in that position for five years, longer than anyone in Saskatchewan’s history. He also served as the minister of Crown Investments Corporation, minister responsible for SaskPower, minister for seniors and minister of the environment.

From late 2011 until March 2013, he served as leader of the official Opposition.

“It will not be a quiet retirement,” said Nilson. “What is happening in the NDP right now is incredibly exciting. Cam Broten is an inspiring, forward-looking leader and we have capable young community leaders and professionals ready to join him and be NDP MLAs themselves. I will be proud to watch Cam and a next-generation team lead, and I will certainly still be an active member of the larger team of New Democrats in Saskatchewan.”

Over a 20-year career in the Saskatchewan legislature, Nilson’s contributions to Saskatchewan are many and varied. A short list of them includes:

  • He delivered the Action Plan for Health Care, Healthy People: A Healthy Province.
  • He established the Health Quality Council.
  • He introduced the HealthLine and expanded the Telehealth Network.
  • He opened new health facilities, including those in Maidstone, Swift Current, Unity, Carrot River, Melville, Weyburn, Stony Rapids, Melfort, Yorkton, Davidson and the All-Nations Healing Centre and the Ile-a-la-Crosse integrated education and health centre.
  • He facilitated the building of the new provincial lab.
  • He created the surgical wait times system.
  • He opened residency seats for internationally trained physicians.
  • He introduced a public health strategy that focused on mental health and healthy lifestyles.
  • He banned smoking in public areas.
  • He banned the public display of cigarettes in stores.
  • He opened the Saskatoon Child Centre and the Regina Children’s Justice Centre, innovative facilities to provide integrated, coordinated responses to child abuse.
  • He improved access to the small claims court.
  • He intervened on Saskatchewan’s behalf in the Quebec Secession Case before the Supreme Court of Canada.
  • He brought in an advanced land information system.
  • He brought in a province-wide electronics-recycling program.
  • He opened new wind power facilities and launched the net metering program to encourage the development of environmentally responsible power.
  • He launched a provincial green strategy and was responsible for the establishment of a comprehensive energy and climate change plan.

Nilson studied in Washington, Oslo, Minnesota and British Columbia. He’s a member of the bar in British Columbia and Saskatchewan, with a Queen’s Counsel designation.

Nilson will continue serving as the MLA for Regina Lakeview until the next election. For their support over the years, he sends thanks to his wife, Linda, who is a physician in Regina, to his two adult daughters, Ingrid and Solveig and to the constituents of Regina Lakeview.

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For more information, contact:
Doyle Fox, NDP caucus