The Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly wraps up the session on Thursday, and when it does, Weyburn-Big Muddy MLA Dustin Duncan will have sat in the chamber for the final time as the representative for this constituency. In February, Duncan announced he would not be seeking re-election in the next provincial vote, which is expected to be called this fall.  

“It certainly is a bittersweet time,” Duncan said when visiting the Discover Weyburn studios on Friday. “I’ve really enjoyed this role, been tremendously honoured to do this role, and to know that I have a week left now to essentially represent the people of this constituency.” 

For the past 18 years, Duncan has never been called by his proper name in the chamber. All MLAs are referred to by the riding that they represent or the portfolio they hold. This means, since first being elected in 2006 during a by-election, he was addressed as the Member for Weyburn-Big Muddy, the Minister of Tourism, Parks, Culture and Sport, the Minister of Environment, the Minister of Health, the Minister of Energy and Resources, the Minister of Education, and the Minister of Crown Investments Corporation.  

For Duncan, though, it is being the MLA for Weyburn-Big Muddy that has meant the most to him.  

“It’s just been a tremendous honour to be able to have that title, and have that name, and to be able to speak on behalf of constituents.” 

Being elected in 2006, Duncan has spent 40 percent of his life as an elected official, and a third of his life as a cabinet minister. For him, it is pretty much, at least professionally, the only life he has known. The discussions with his wife Amanda about what the future will hold for him and his family have been ongoing, but nothing has been set. 

“We’re going to take, hopefully, a couple of weeks or months as things start to wind down this summer, and this fall, heading into the election, I think, just to take a breather,” Duncan shared. “I don’t know what’s next.” 

Professionally, it is a matter of waiting for the writ to be dropped, and what the plans are for Premier Scott Moe. Often, the premier will shuffle the cabinet ahead of an election, but whether this is in the cards this time is something that isn’t known yet.  

Duncan’s tenure as the MLA for Weyburn-Big Muddy is also a milestone one. If the election is called in the fall, as expected, he will be the longest-serving MLA in the history of Weyburn. He is currently the second longest-serving MLA, ahead of Tommy Douglas, and behind J. Auburn Pepper.  

“It’s something that... I feel a debt to the people of this community, in this constituency, that I... I don’t know how you would ever repay that,” Duncan said. “They have given me their trust and their confidence for 18 years now, and I’ve always felt like, in return, that I would work my best and do the best I could, and work the hardest I could to hopefully continue to earn that trust, and at the end of it that everybody would consider this a fair trade.” 

His career hasn’t always been easy. For much of his career in cabinet, it always appeared Duncan would be put into a position where he was handed a portfolio, right before something controversial would happen with that ministry.  

“I’ve joked in the past that I think both premiers (Brad Wall and Scott Moe) we able to find a sucker when they put me into different positions,” Duncan laughed about how it seemed he was the man who had to handle the fallout from every decision. 

Changing the tone slightly, he noted that in government, when dealing with the major portfolios, there are always going to be big issues to deal with.  

“If anything, I hope it was a sign of the confidence that they felt, that they had in me, to be able to go through some challenging times and some challenging portfolios.” 

As an MLA there were also some challenges locally, which have forever left an impact on Duncan. 

“There’s always those types of things, you know, whether you’re dealing with a constituent in the office that you know there’s not much that you can do to help their situation out as best as we try in the constituency office,” Duncan explained.  

For him, one of the biggest was the flooding in Weyburn in 2011. 

“I was actually just looking back over a booklet that was made about that flooding, and just seeing the pictures of how much water was laying around the city, and affected everybody’s lives, and frankly, how the community came together and really pulled through that time.” 

Duncan didn’t watch the flooding from his offices in Regina, though. Along with a number of other government employees and officials, he came down to Weyburn to help put sandbags together after an open call by then-Premier Brad Wall to help.  

“At the time I was Minister of Environment and responsible for the Water Security Agency, and so not only having my role as the MLA here locally, but also then provincially and trying to help manage issues at the Rafferty Dam and the Alameda Dam that played a role in preventing more flooding.” 

We will have more with our interview with Duncan tomorrow.