Top bureaucrat seeks premier’s job

Alanna Koch. Government of Saskatchewan

A senior bureaucrat with a background in farming is joining the race to be premier.

Alanna Koch was the first woman to serve as deputy minister to Premier Brad Wall, the top post in the province’s civil service. In a release to reporters, she touted her experience as a farmer in Edenwold and her leading role in agriculture advocacy groups.

“What sets me apart is the sheer breadth and depth of my experience,” she said. “I’m a mother. I’m a farmer. I have stood up for farmers and the agriculture industry. I’ve helped open doors so our farmers can sell their beef, wheat and canola all over the world.”

The Saskatchewan leadership race is about “families,” she said, stressing her commitment to family farms, family business and middle-class working families. It’s a list of priorities that’s unlikely to turn anyone off, but it won’t yet set her apart from the four ex-ministers already in the race.

Saskatoon MLA Ken Cheveldayoff, already widely reputed to be among that group, also officially announced his candidacy on Monday.

In her press release, Koch struck a note of continuity and vowed to build on the record of the Wall government.

“Thanks to the path Brad Wall has put us on, I’m excited that my daughters and other young people can build their futures right here in Saskatchewan,” she said. “My goal as Premier will be to stay on that path, build on it, and keep Saskatchewan strong.”

Koch does not yet hold elected office as an MLA. Premier Wall announced that she will be taking an unpaid leave of absence as deputy minister as she runs her campaign. In the meantime, Intergovernmental Affairs deputy minister Kent Campbell will fill her role.