Swift Current MLA Everett Hindley will have some additional duties when the fall session of the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly starts on Oct. 23.
He has been appointed as the government whip for the Saskatchewan Party caucus in the provincial legislature, and he will continue to be the legislative secretary to Minister of Trade and Export Development Jeremy Harrison.
The expansion of Hindley’s duties is part of some changes to the cabinet and caucus that was announced by Premier Scott Moe on Aug. 13.
“It's pretty exciting,” Hindley said. “I'm thankful for the premier giving me the opportunity to serve as the government whip. It will be an exciting challenge and I look forward to speaking to some of my fellow colleagues who have served in that position before, just to learn about how they handled the position, and I look forward to that opportunity this fall session, once we get underway.”
He received the call from the premier’s office a day before the formal announcement was made about the cabinet shuffle, which include a change of portfolios for three cabinet ministers and some changes to the government leadership in the legislature.
“I was, to be honest, a little caught off guard,” he said. “You never know what to expect when the premier is calling your cellphone, but that's what happened and I'm just very fortunate that he decided to give me the chance to serve in this position.”
At the same time Hindley understands the inner workings of government, because he was former Premier Brad Wall’s executive assistant for 10 years before being elected as Swift Current’s current MLA in March 2018.
“These things are always unexpected,” Hindley said. “When there are changes made, whether it's the caucus structure or the cabinet, those decisions are made just with a small handful of people in the premier's office that know what's going to be taking place.”
He felt his previous experience as a staff person might be useful when he takes on his new duties as government whip.
“It definitely helps and I knew a large number of the MLAs when I got elected,” he noted. “I worked with them as a staff person, and then getting elected you get to know them just a little bit better of course. … I hope it will make the transition a little bit easier in terms of being able to fill this particular role, and everybody has been great. I've had a ton of MLAs reach out to me, either by call or text, and offer their congratulations.”
He has been explaining to quite a few people since the announcement what the duties of a government whip are. Each party in the legislature appoints a whip to fulfill certain duties.
“Unless you're a keen political watcher, a lot of people don't know exactly what a whip does,” he said. “The government has a whip and the opposition also has a whip, and that person is responsible for making sure that their MLAs are in the chamber when there's important votes being called, so that we have enough votes in the chamber. I'm also responsible for making sure that our MLAs on the government side are informed of the business before the assembly and what's taking place in the House each day during the sitting.”
He will have some other duties in his position as government whip to ensure that the governing party’s MLAs carry out various functions when the legislature is in session.
“I'm also responsible for arranging for speakers to take part in various debates and committees, and that work that occurs during a session,” he explained. “So that's essentially what the whip is responsible for. A lot of coordination of members on the government side and making sure that everybody is where they need to be and that we have the right people speaking to the right bills and the right debates.”
These additional duties and responsibilities will mean that he will receive an extra allowance. MLAs currently receive an annual salary of $98,395. Both the government and opposition whip receive an additional allowance of $14,640.
“It does mean some additional meetings for myself,” he said. “So serving as the whip means I'm part of the House Services Committee as well. Each day there'll be an additional meeting that I have to be a part of in the morning, just because we sit in the afternoon. … A lot of the stuff is specific to when the legislature is in session. So for that time period in late October to early December, and again from March until May. That's when the bulk of the work will occur, but I'm sure there'll be some other things outside of the session as well that I'll be responsible for.”
He does not mind being busy and his previous work in government had been a good experience, where he learned to multitask and to manage his schedule and priorities effectively.
“I enjoy being busy, and I'm really excited for the opportunity and I hope I'm able to do a good job at it,” he said. “The most important role for me is to be the MLA for Swift Current, because without that I don't have any of these other jobs, and serving Swift Current will always be my number one priority and I will try to do that to the best of my ability.”
He has been the legislative secretary for trade and export development since May 2018, and he is looking forward to continue his work in this role.
“It sure is an interesting time to serve as the legislative secretary in this particular portfolio, because we've seen quite a shift here in terms of what's happening with trade worldwide and it affects us locally, not just in Saskatchewan but right here in Swift Current,” he said. “We've got some trade and issues and challenges with major exporting countries, like India and China, and that's huge. That really impacts things back home for our farmers and producers and folks that run manufacturing businesses here in Swift Current.”
He referred to his meetings with local businesses in recent months, and the feedback they provided about how trade issues have an impact on their businesses.
“We're a large exporting province,” he said. “We're exporting anywhere from 60 to 70 per cent of what we produce here in Saskatchewan. So trade is extremely important to us, and you're going to see us continue to work on trying to resolve some of these issues with China and with India, but we also need to work even harder at finding and getting into some new markets and countries that maybe we don't do a lot of trade with, just so we spread out our risk a bit that way.”
It has been both humbling and exciting for Hindley to be the elected representative for Swift Current in the provincial legislature. He enjoys the chance during speaking opportunities in the legislature to talk about the good things that are happening in Swift Current and also to receive feedback and comments from local residents.
“Every day in politics is interesting, there's no two days that are alike, and I'm just so lucky to have this job and I look forward to doing it each and every day,” he said.