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Home News Longtime NDP MLA Vermette will not seek re-election

Longtime NDP MLA Vermette will not seek re-election

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Longtime NDP MLA Vermette will not seek re-election
Cumberland MLA Doyle Vermette holds The Saskatchewan Strategy for Suicide Prevention Act. Photo courtesy of Doyle Vermette

Longtime NDP MLA Doyle Vermette has announced that his current term in office will be his last.

The Cumberland MLA was first elected in a by-election in 2008, then won re-election in 2011, 2016, and 2020. However, Vermette said on Tuesday that he won’t seek re-election when his current term ends in 2024.

“I have been in office since 2008 and now feel it is time for another to take the wheel and continue the fight for the people of our constituency,” Vermette in a press release.

“Being the MLA for the Cumberland constituency has been one of the greatest experiences I’ve had in my lifetime. It has brought me many positives and sometimes many challenges, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” he added.

Vermette thanked the many constituency assistants that worked in his office over the years. The list includes Vicky Sanderson, Al Rivard, the late Bernice Custer, Devin Bernatchez and Jude Ratt, and Pearl Doris Morin. He also thanked the elders and community leaders who gave him their support.

“I have built trust and many relationships with wonderful people, and I hope these relationships will only get stronger as we continue to fight for a better province,” Vermette said. “I am continually humbled by the overwhelming support from our constituents and will be forever grateful.”

Former Prince Albert Northcote NDP MLA Nicole Rancourt said Vermette was a passionate politician who knew his constituency well, despite the large distance it covered. She also credited him for being an excellent mentor when she was first elected.  

“We know it’s definitely going to be a big loss at the legislature, not having Doyle representing Cumberland there,” Rancourt said in an interview on Tuesday. “He was an excellent MLA, one of the hardest working MLAs that I’ve ever met. He has one of the geographically largest constituencies to maintain, but yet he’s known across his whole constituency and well respected.

“I also think it’s a big loss for Prince Albert not having him there as well because he definitely knows Prince Albert,” she added. “He was born and raised in the West Flat of Prince Albert, and so he always thought about Prince Albert whenever he would be up there advocating for people.”

Vermette made mental health a priority during this time in office, serving as the NDP’s mental health and addictions critic. Those efforts lead to the passing of his private members bill in 2021, The Saskatchewan Strategy for Suicide Prevention Act, but there were rough spots along the way.

In May 2022, Vermette was suspended from the legislative assembly for cursing after accusing the government of not “giving a (expletive)” about suicide, and other mental health issues. The suspension came after Vermette had stood up 22 straight days asking for more action on his suicide prevention bill.

NDP leader Carla Beck said Vermette was a strong advocate for his community, and a passionate politician.

“His advocacy and accomplishments have truly cemented a lasting legacy,” Beck in a press release. “Always quick with a joke, his presence will be sorely missed and we wish him and his family nothing but the absolute best as he takes on this next chapter of his life.”  

Vermette was born and raised in Prince Albert, but made La Ronge his permanent home in 1990. Prior to his career in provincial politics, Vermette was an eighty-year member of the Northern Lights School Division/Nortep-Norpac Board of Education. He also served two years as board chair.

He also served as the Gabriel Dumont Institute (GDI) acting chair from 2004 to early 2008, and as an alderman for Air Ronge from 1994 to 1997.

Vermette has also served as a board member for the Keewatin Career Development Corporation, the Saskatchewan Water Corporation, the Jim Brady Métis Local #19 and the Kikinahk Friendship Centre.