Allan Blakeney
May 11, 2011 3:15 PM   Subscribe

Rhodes' Scholar, Canadian Constitutional lawyer, eminent statesman, former Saskatchewan Premier and gentleman Allan Blakeney has died.

As Health Minister under Woodrow Lloyd, he steered the Medical Care Insurance Act of 1961 through Saskatchewan's legislature, facing bitter and well financed opposition (particularly from the AMA) thus creating the first public medical insurance plan in North America.
posted by Neiltupper (22 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I remember being a young child, late 1970s, I think it was New Year's Eve and there was a "year in review" news report on TV, and my dad, a government employee, pointed at Allan Blakeney and said, "There's my boss." That's one of my earliest memories.


(BTW, spelled "Allan.")
posted by evilcolonel at 3:19 PM on May 11, 2011

[fixed spelling, carry on]
posted by jessamyn at 3:20 PM on May 11, 2011

Better story, one that speaks to his integrity: A couple of days after Mr. Blakeney died last month, I interviewed a former civil servant in the Blakeney government, and briefly a member of his cabinet. This person had been elected in a byelection with two months left in the calendar year. As he recounted the story to me, Blakeney told him that even though there were only two months left, (paraphrasing) "you're legally entitled to a full year's communications budget. But you'll use no more than one-sixth."
posted by evilcolonel at 3:26 PM on May 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

I was born in Saskatchewan during the Blakeney years, but was a teenager during the Devine years, so I missed awareness of the period when it was a well-run and financially stable province, and got to watch the pigs at the trough for a decade, requiring the Romanow government (NDP, like Blakeney) that followed to clean things up.

I've been thinking lately that the reason I'm basically a left wing person at heart is that my experience of left-wing governments in Saskatchewan is that they're the ones who manage the province's wallet properly, which frees up the money for social programs that I want to see. Good public finances make the sort of ideal liberal welfare state possible and workable. That's Blakeny's legacy right there.
posted by fatbird at 3:37 PM on May 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

BTW, Romanow dug Saskatchewan out of the billion dollar hole Devine dug, and beat Alberta to a balanced budget by two years in the 90s.

Suck on it, Klein.
posted by fatbird at 3:38 PM on May 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

posted by orthogonality at 3:39 PM on May 11, 2011

Uncle Al, the people's pal.
posted by No Robots at 3:55 PM on May 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

Also a Saskatchewanian here. I will never understand how Conservative governments get their reputation for being fiscally responsible. While Grant Devine himself appears to have been clean, 13 of 55 (64 total) Progressive Conservative Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) were charged with fraud over around $850,000.CBC archives
posted by Decimask at 3:56 PM on May 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

I go now to Metafilter as I do to the obit pages in the newspaper...So far, good day: 3 posts begin with so and so has died. Off to a good start.
posted by Postroad at 4:15 PM on May 11, 2011

I grew up in North Dakota, just south of the Saskatchewan border. My mom used to say, "I wish we could get a few more Allan Blakeneys done here."
posted by Ber at 4:38 PM on May 11, 2011 [3 favorites]

Almost a month ago in fact.

He was one of the good ones…

posted by bobloblaw at 5:01 PM on May 11, 2011

Damn. Another great Canadian I'd not heard of. RIP.
posted by Schlimmbesserung at 5:12 PM on May 11, 2011

Regrettably I knew next to nothing about him before today. However, I will pay proper respect to any Oxonian who did such service for his country.

posted by epsilon at 5:20 PM on May 11, 2011

Godspeed, Mr. Blakeney.
posted by Capt. Renault at 5:34 PM on May 11, 2011

This guy is a fucking hero in some parts of the world.
posted by clvrmnky at 7:45 PM on May 11, 2011

He was my high school's most famous alumnus (Donald Sutherland being #1).
posted by kevinsp8 at 8:04 PM on May 11, 2011

I was born in Blakeney's Saskatchewan...

If anyone talks about death panels or other nonsense when it comes to socialised medicine, I'd like to tell you what it was like getting free dental care as a child in Saskatchewan.

A few days a year the dentist would be in your school, kids would get called down a few at a time for a dental checkup, a bit later (couple of weeks maybe) the dentist would come back and the kids who needed more treatment would be called to the dentist office, get their treatments and then go back to class.. Took practically no time, or effort, and the public health benefit was doubtlessly huge. The only red tape and beauracracy was the odd note home/permission slip. Kids in the inner city schools and the suburbs go the same care (I went to both kinds of schools).

A few years later the cowboy casino-capitalists took over, spent the province into oblivion and free dental care for children was gone. The dental equipment was auctioned off for pennies on the dollar.

As far as North American socialists go, Blakeney was a giant... easily top ten.
posted by Intrepid at 8:41 PM on May 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

A few days a year the dentist would be in your school...

Where I am working here in Malaysia they have exactly this system. Reflect on that - a still developing, former colonial country is able to provide free dental care to all the children in the country.

And we don't/can't do that in Canada or the USA.
posted by Meatbomb at 3:37 AM on May 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Several Saskatchewanians here, but I see that most of us have moved elsewhere. I heard about this shortly after it happened. He was a good man.
posted by smorange at 8:44 AM on May 12, 2011

Allen Blakeney was one of the good guys.

Blakeney ran a responsible, balanced government.
A little too balanced perhaps for organized labour and progressives in the province.
They dropped their support arguing "Why should we support them? They don't support us.".

Grant Devine's Conservatives took power.
The used car salesmen and shysters took over. The pigs hit the trough in a big way.
They privatized as much as they could get away with and slashed welfare and education budgets.
These were ugly times in Saskatchewan.
The NDP eventually came back. A lot of the greedier bastards (Conservative cabinet ministers) wound up in jail as they were not even smart crooks.

After all these, I still gets pissed off thinking about it.
posted by dougzilla at 9:07 AM on May 12, 2011

My father worked under Blakeney's administration and had nothing but good things to say about him. He subsequently worked under Devine's administration and saw every good work of Blakeney's pissed on (then sold off, or set fire to, if possible).

I also have fond memories of elementary school dental care, and recycling programs that incentivized me and my friends to save every soda bottle we could find and allowed us to cash them out at any convenience store. Many of the fiscally responsible programs that I remember from the 70s are seen as unachievable pipe dreams today, by what passes for the far left.

posted by benzenedream at 10:27 AM on May 12, 2011

Many of the fiscally responsible programs that I remember from the 70s are seen as unachievable pipe dreams today, by what passes for the far left.

Agreed. The left lost a lot of vision, and when Grant Devine almost bankrupt the province, the NDP in Saskatchewan should have admitted that perhaps having a province where you can't go anywhere without tripping over a school, hospital or library is a sign of a good civilization... and left those institutions largely intact instead of closing them down to get the books in order.

The province wasn't really broke after all. Romanow would have had plenty of money if he just nationalized the oil industry. That would have shown the bankers who was in charge of Saskatchewan.
posted by Intrepid at 12:37 PM on May 12, 2011

« Older Better to be the head of a dog than the tail of a...   |   Who cares? Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments