Saskatchewan ag minister to exit cabinet

Saskatchewan Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart, shown here at Ag in Motion in 2015, plans to leave the post following a recent cancer diagnosis. (File photo by Lisa Guenther)

Saskatchewan’s premier expects to name a new minister of agriculture within days, as the incumbent minister steps aside to focus on cancer treatments.

Lyle Stewart announced Thursday he will remain as ag minister until Premier Scott Moe names a new minister, a decision to be announced sometime this week.

“I was recently diagnosed with colorectal cancer and will be undergoing several months of pretty aggressive treatment,” Stewart said in a release Thursday.

Stewart said he will remain with the Saskatchewan Party caucus as the MLA for the Moose Jaw-area riding of Lumsden-Morse, but given his “current circumstances” he asked Moe to name a new ag minister.

“First and foremost, Lyle Stewart is my friend, so the most important thing is for him to deal with his cancer,” Moe said in Thursday’s release. “Everything else is secondary.”

Stewart, who farms and ranches with his family near Pense, Sask., about 25 km west of Regina, entered provincial politics in 1999 as the MLA for what was then Thunder Creek, and has since been re-elected four times.

He served stints as interim opposition leader and agriculture critic before the party formed government in 2007, and served as minister for enterprise and innovation before then-premier Brad Wall named him to the ag portfolio in 2012. He previously underwent treatment for prostate cancer in 2014.

Producer groups were among Stewart’s well-wishers Thursday, including the Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association, praising his “close working relationship, excellent leadership and commitment to agriculture” and the Saskatchewan Cattle Feeders Association, lauding his “passionate work on the ag file.”

Provincial NDP leader Ryan Meili, writing Thursday on Twitter, thanked Stewart “for his diligent work as minister of agriculture and extend(ed) my best wishes to him and his family during this difficult time.” — Glacier FarmMedia Network

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