By Joel van der Veen
SASKATOON — Lynne Yelich’s 15-year career in federal politics appears set to draw to a close this fall.
Last Monday, broadcaster Kevin Waugh defeated the longtime MP and cabinet minister in the race to be the Conservatives’ candidate for the newly-created Saskatoon Grasswood riding.
Once the writ is dropped for the next federal election — expected to fall on Oct. 19 — Yelich will lose her seat in the House of Commons after representing the Blackstrap riding since 2000.
In a statement issued Tuesday, Yelich said simply that she was “disappointed in this result,” but added that she had been honoured to support the work of the Conservative government.
“It has been a privilege to represent the constituents of Blackstrap for nearly 15 years,” she stated, thanking residents for their “support and trust in my leadership, and for this opportunity to serve a strong and free Canada.”
She did not offer any details regarding her future plans, political or otherwise, nor any further comments on Waugh’s win.
Yelich, 62, a native of Kenaston, was first elected to represent Blackstrap in 2000 as a member of the Canadian Alliance.
She remained on board in 2003 when the Alliance and the Progressive Conservatives merged to form the new federal Conservative Party of Canada.
Yelich was re-elected in 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2011, receiving 54.4 per cent of the vote in the most recent federal election.
Having served as a critic for multiple portfolios as a member of the Opposition, Yelich became parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development after the Conservatives formed a minority government in 2006.
Two years later, she joined the federal cabinet as Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification. In 2013, she was appointed to her current portfolio as Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Consular.
In 2012, the province’s federal electoral districts were reconfigured, based on the population statistics provided by the previous year’s census.
The current riding of Blackstrap covers both urban and rural territory, combining the southeast quadrant of the City of Saskatoon with the surrounding area, extending south to Elbow, southeast to Bladworth and east to Jensen.
It will be replaced in the upcoming federal election with its area divided into two new ridings. Southeast Saskatoon will become part of the Saskatoon Grasswood riding, while the rural area will be incorporated into Moose Jaw-Lake Centre-Lanigan.
Kevin Waugh, a sports director and anchor for Saskatoon’s CTV affiliate, announced in June that he would challenge Yelich for the nomination.
He offered some pointed comments to the StarPhoenix last month, saying that with a new, strictly urban riding, a change in leadership was needed.
“We only have three ridings now, so you’d better come from Saskatoon, in my estimation,” he was quoted. “You better understand what the city needs.”
The end of Yelich’s term will also mark the end of a 22-year span in which Kenaston natives represented the village and surrounding area in the House of Commons.
Allan Kerpan was elected to represent Moose Jaw-Lake Centre as a Reform MP in 1993. After new ridings were established, he was re-elected to represent Blackstrap in 1997.
He remained with the Reform Party as it dissolved to form the Canadian Alliance in 2000, but did not stand for re-election that year, paving the way for Yelich to run in the riding.
According to her online biography, Yelich has a background in administration. She and her husband Matt have two daughters and three grandchildren.
Yelich was unavailable for further comment last week.