Any eligible voter can run as a candidate for election to the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan. Members generally serve in government or in opposition and act in agreement with party policy, although membership in a political party is not an official requirement of elected office. If a member changes parties or chooses to sit as an independent, he or she is not required to resign.
Members are elected to represent the specific interests of their constituents but are also representatives of the province of Saskatchewan and must consider the province’s needs as a whole. Whatever their political outlook, and regardless of which side of the Assembly they sit on, members’ duties and obligations are considerable.
Responsibilities in the Assembly
The Legislative Assembly convenes for two sessions during the year. The fall session begins with a Speech from the Throne and continues for 25 days. The spring session, which contains the budget debate, begins in March and lasts 40 days. Members are required to attend every day the Assembly sits.
Members take their legislative duties seriously because they know the laws they pass directly affect Saskatchewan citizens. When Members of the Legislative Assembly debate, analyze and amend Bills (proposed laws) on a wide variety of issues, they often draw on their own life experience and expertise. Preparation for a debate also involves research, consultation with experts, and writing and delivering a speech that reflects the member’s concerns as well as those of his or her constituents.
As members review the clauses of a Bill in the Assembly or conduct a line-by-line examination of the provincial budget in committee, the ensuing debate generates publicity that helps to form public opinion. This in turn influences the government’s decisions. Therefore, members’ expression of support or opposition to the government has a critical effect.
For three days of the week, the Assembly considers items of business proposed by the government. On Thursdays, priority is given to items initiated by backbench members, including Bills, motions that raise issues for debate, and requests for information.
Responsibilities in the Constituency
Due to their knowledge of services offered by various levels of government and community groups, members are uniquely qualified to help constituents resolve their problems.
Members need excellent interpersonal skills to understand and defend their constituents’ interests. They may need the skills of a social worker to effectively solve constituents’ pressing personal problems. Members often act as a mediator to resolve a clash of interests within their constituencies or between their constituents and other groups. They may have to advocate on behalf of the community or explain the provisions and effects of proposed legislation. They are often called upon to play a public role during local events and ceremonial occasions.
Contacting Members in the Assembly
During session, members are likely to be in the Assembly on Mondays to Wednesdays from 1:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., and on Thursdays from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Evening sittings may occur on Mondays and Tuesdays from 7:00 p.m. until 10:30 p.m. Members may also attend legislative committee meetings, caucus meetings, and other events in the Assembly outside of session.
Contact information for a member’s legislative office and for each party’s caucus office is available here or in the Government of Saskatchewan blue pages in the telephone directory.
Contacting Members in Their Constituencies
Every member maintains at least one constituency office that they work from when the Assembly or its committees are not in session. Some large rural or northern constituencies may have satellite offices in order to serve the needs of more distant electors. When the legislature is sitting, Fridays are regarded as “constituency days” so that members may meet with constituents and attend events in their local area.
Contact information for a member’s constituency office can be found here. It is also listed in the white pages of your local phone directory, or available through the party’s caucus office.