David Forbes to retire at end of current term

David Forbes stands beside former premier Lorne Calvert (Facebook photo)

Longtime NDP MLA David Forbes says he won’t run in the next provincial election, and he wants to see a more diverse candidate replace him.

Forbes announced on Friday that he intends to serve out the rest of his term and then step away from politics. The Saskatoon-Centre MLA said he’s confident new leader Ryan Meili has the party headed in the right direction, but still thought it was the right time to step aside.

Although he said local party members will have the final say in who runs in his old spot, he’s hopeful they, and the party as a whole, will keep diversity in mind.

“The richness is in our diversity here in Saskatchewan,” Forbes said during an interview Friday afternoon. “Obviously gender balance is important and we need more Indigenous people (in office). The orientation aspect is huge and also we need a good balance in terms of age.”

That last item was Forbes’ main focus. He said it’s important to have a mixture of experienced candidates how remember where the province has been, along with younger members who bring their hopes, dreams and enthusiasm to the next campaign. Until then, he plans on continuing in his current role.

“It’s been two-and-a-half years since the last general election,” he explained. “We’re looking at about another two years until the next one. I think that means a lot of people are probably reflecting on their commitment and what it means. It’s important for me that when you run, you run for the full term, and that’s why I’m staying until the end.”

Forbes was first elected in 2001 after spending 18 years as a teacher. He served as Minister of Environment and Minister of Labour under former premier Lorne Calvert and NDP caucus chair while in opposition. He also held numerous critic portfolios. He said it was an honour to serve in government and opposition, and rewarding to work with “so many terrific people.”

“In Saskatchewan, we have so much work to do in terms of poverty and truth and reconciliation,” he added. “I hope we can continue those struggles moving forward. (I’m) happy to have been a part of the progress that we have made.”

Geographically, Saskatoon-Centre is one of the smaller ridings in the province, which means Forbes rarely had to travel during campaigns. However, he said that made it much more exciting whenever he headed north.

“I’ve always enjoyed going up to P.A.,” he said. “One thing I’ve enjoyed is the travel around the province, up to P.A. and La Ronge. I’ve been so fortunate in having a small, concise, compact riding, but our province is a beautiful.”

Once he retires from politics, Forbes plans to spend more time with his children and grandchildren.

“I think this is a good time to turn the page,” he said.

On Facebook, one of his old constituents, current NDP leader Ryan Meili, thanked him for “his service, his guidance and, above all, his friendship.”