Books July 2012


Roy Romanow

 Steven and I go way back. In fact, I can’t pinpoint the day we met. Perhaps it was during the course of some campaign in the 1970s or 1980s when Allan Blakeney was leader. Or was it after I became premier in the early 1990s? But, of course, it doesn’t matter – and besides, he may not be prepared to admit that he is really that old. What really matters is that from day one, I have always considered Steven to be one of the most knowledgeable healthcare policy experts I have ever worked with.

If I were asked to pick four words to describe Steven they would be brilliant, energetic, committed and witty. His brilliance and intelligence are demonstrated in his voluminous body of work on healthcare. The collection of writings contained herein is evidence of this. But his brilliance goes beyond this and impresses me every time we meet. Regardless of venue, Steven’s gifts are obvious.

Steven’s energy is perhaps the first notable characteristic. Energetic people are sometimes daunting, and this might be how Steven appears to some. However, I have often observed that those who suffer from extreme intellectual curiosity are confronted with difficult and competing interests all the time. For some, this might seem like a threadbare approach; for Steven, it simply adds to or complements his capacity to produce.

Committed. In all aspects of his life, Steven is committed. And, unlike many, Steven follows up his commitments with actions. This is reflected in both his written word and beyond. Where social issues are concerned, he works to influence his neighbours through hosting events and canvassing – or whatever is necessary. He recognizes that a healthy local community is the cornerstone of a healthy society, and he is willing to do what it takes to move that agenda forward.

But, at the end of the day, you can’t talk about Steven without mentioning his wit. Steven’s humour is at times cutting but is never without charm. I encountered his sense of humour when he was assisting on the Royal Commission. When the deadline for an interim report approached and there wasn’t much to report, I asked Steven for his advice. He said, “Oh hell, just write them a short letter and tell them you have nothing to say!” I didn’t take his advice. In hindsight, I sometimes think it would have saved much grief along the way.

Steven is a great speech writer, a wonderful writer, period; and among the best of many advisors I’ve had the pleasure to be associated with both professionally and personally. I foresee and hope that there are many, many more speeches, academic lectures, articles and exhibits of his community influence in the years to come.

About the Author(s)

Roy Romanow was born, raised and educated in Saskatoon. He was first elected to the Saskatchewan Legislature in 1967. Between 1971 and 1982, Roy Romanow served as Deputy Premier of Saskatchewan. On November 7, 1987, Roy was acclaimed Leader of the Saskatchewan New Democratic Party. On November 1, 1991, he was sworn in as Premier of Saskatchewan, a post he held until the spring of 2001, at which time he retired from active political life. On April 4 2001, Roy was appointed by Prime Minister Jean Chr├ętien to head the Royal Commission on the Future of Health Care in Canada. In 2003, Roy was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.


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