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Senator David Tkachuk (BA'65, EDUC'66), who was appointed to the Red Chamber in 1993 and will retire in February, at his home in Saskatoon, SK on Thursday, January 30, 2020. Liam Richards / Saskatoon StarPhoenix Liam Richards / Saskatoon StarPhoenix

From rock promoter to political leader: Longtime Sask. senator retires

"I got to listen to debates from an insider's point of view my whole career. That's a part of history that is just in the room," Senator David Tkachuck (BA'65, EDUC'66).

Looking back over his career in politics, Sen. David Tkachuk (BA'65, EDUC'66) most fondly remembers being part of a team and getting to be in the room where decisions were made, as reported by the Saskatoon StarPhoenix.

“I got to listen to debates from an insider’s point of view my whole career. That’s a part of history that is just in the room,” Tkachuk said.

“Those, to me, are the most important things.”

Tkachuk, who retires from the Senate today on his 75th birthday, was appointed to the Red Chamber in 1993 by then-Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. The appointment came after Tkachuk had built a nearly 20-year political career that included organizing federal and provincial election campaigns and working in Premier Grant Devine’s government.

But Tkachuk hasn’t always been in politics. For two years in the early 1970s he was a high school teacher and, before that, a music promoter.

“I was the first booking agent in Saskatoon; Saskatoon had never had one before,” he said.

Tkachuk recalls working with friends to organize a music festival at Pike Lake on the grounds of the Ukrainian Church. Admission was $2 with the idea of giving local acts a platform.

“We had a sense of humour, so we did a takeoff of Woodstock and we called it Woodtick,” he said.

Saskatchewan Justice Minister Don Morgan, who first met Tkachuk when he was working for Devine’s government, remembers those early years.

“Before he was a senator, he was a rock promoter,” Morgan said, and laughed.

Morgan said Tkachuk was the person you went to if you needed something resolved.

“He had a good sense of humour and always got back to you with the technically correct advice.”

Shortly after being appointed to the Senate, Tkachuk found himself chairing committees. He was chair of the finance committee in 1995 and of the banking committee in 1996.

While listing highlights from his time in the Senate, Tkachuk mentions the Terrorist Act, passed in 2011, that allows victims of terrorists to sue the perpetrators of terrorism and their supporters.

He also talks about supporting discussion of self-government on reserves and fighting the gun registration bill.

“I think defending the interests of the province has been a constant highlight and something I have attempted to do every time I thought our interests were not protected,” Tkachuk said.

He also sees fostering debate on the recent C-48 and C-69 bills (which created a tanker ban and brought about changes to environmental assessment for major projects, respectively) as an important piece of his work at a senator.

“That was a real highlight for me and I worked hard on that,” Tkachuk said.

Morgan said he will miss having Tkachuk’s voice in the Senate as defender of Saskatchewan’s interests.

“He is a real believer in Saskatchewan and wanted to make Saskatchewan a better place.”

Tkachuk said he is happy with everything he has accomplished, but there are a couple of things he said he wishes had gone differently.

Read more at https://thestarphoenix.com/news/.

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