When MLA Delbert Kirsch first spoke in the Legislative Chamber, he was the first member from the newly created constituency of Batoche. Bordered by the North and South Saskatchewan Rivers, it is the ancestral home of the Metis and Indigenous nations with an abundance of natural resources and a strong rural background.  

As Delbert Kirsch stood to deliver his farewell address, he marveled at the progress he has seen since his upbringing in the area, and the shift in power and perception of what was once deemed a “have not” province.  

Kirsch was among the numerous MLA bidding farewell to politics as a career. The rancher and auctioneer from Middle Lake was first elected in 2003. He has served as the chair of the Standing Committee on Intergovernmental Affairs and Justice and was appointed as Legislative Secretary to the Premier and as a Legislative Secretary to the Minister of Corrections, Public Safety and Policing. 

Kirsch introduced family and friends who were in attendance during the proceedings on Wednesday, May 15. He recalled his introductory speech in the Legislature upon his arrival as a new representative for a new constituency in a relatively new political party. 

“Batoche may be a new constituency [at that time], but it is a very old land — a land that is older than Canada; a land as old as its Native people, its Métis people, its early settlers; a land where oppressed people pushed to desperation retaliated [and came to Saskatchewan]. This constituency still holds the descendants of these same people.” 

“These are the words I spoke in this Chamber over 20 years ago. They would still hold true today. I have tried to live up to them for the past 20‑plus years,” Kirsch continued.  

He marvelled at the progress from his early years in the rural area near Middle Lake. An alumnus of a one-room country school with no electricity, only coal lamps to light the Christmas pageant. In the winter, it was transport to school in a horse-drawn caboose with a small woodstove for heat.  

When the one-room school closed, it was off to the “metropolis of Middle Lake,” as Kirsch called it, a community of 150 people at the time.  

As the years went on, Kirsch, who has always had an interest in politics and history, turned his attention toward provincial service, first as the vice-president of the new constituency and eventually as its first elected member.  

“After getting elected I vividly remember my first trip to the legislature. I got out of my car and walked to the steps of this magnificent building. I looked up, looked to my right, looked to my left, and said to myself, what have you done? This had been my dream and now it was a reality. I then said, God help me.” 

Kirsch paused to reflect on the growth of the province as it entered the 21st century – from a single skew agriculture base to the continued developed and emergence of an increasingly diversified economy. From potash and uranium expansion to the evolution of rare earth mineral prospects, Kirsch says the one trick pony mentality is gone.  

“The Saskatchewan Party became government in November of 2007 and started — there we go — a complete paradigm shift. We are no longer the wee province. We are no longer the have-not province. We can now stand proud and say we are from the new Saskatchewan.” 

The always well-spoken Kirsch concluded saying while he wouldn’t miss the late-night committee meetings, he would miss the friendship he’s made and the challenges of “planning and building of our province to be a player in both our Canadian economy and the world economy.”