Midland MLA Blaine Pedersen announced his retirement from our provincial cabinet last week. He made the announcement shortly after Premier Brian Pallister's mini-cabinet shuffle on Thursday.

Going back to the 2019 election, Pedersen says he knew then it was going to be his last election.

"I told the premier, at that time too that it was, and so when he gave me the nod to lead up Agriculture and Resource Development, I said 'That's good, I'll do it for 2 years, and then I want to step back, because I want to be able to work in my constituency,'"said Pedersen. He also anticipates having some special projects coming up from the premier.

One of the projects will relate to water, Pedersen noted.

"We need some water retention in Midland. We're in the middle of a drought right now, and some of us have been talking about water management and holding back water. It was difficult to get that idea across when everything was flooded, but certainly in the last few years, it's certainly brought the emphasis on there."

Pedersen says he speaks regularly with Pembina Valley Water Co-op CEO Greg Archibald about water retention, and plans to continue working with the Co-op, farmers, and other stakeholders on water retention in Midland.

At the age of 67, and having been in the workforce for over 50 years, Pedersen says he feels now is the time to slow his pace down a bit, and enjoy more time with family, camping, and fishing.

First elected in May 2007, Pedersen spent 9 years in opposition, until 2016 when the Progressive Conservatives took power. He was then appointed Minister of Infrastructure, spending just over 2 years in that portfolio, then 1 year as Minister of Growth, Enterprise and Trade and the last 2 years in Agriculture and Resource Development.

Pedersen says his career as an MLA, and his roles in the cabinet, have been amazing experiences. "There's so much work that goes on behind the scenes that the public doesn't see. We've got terrific public servants that I have worked with, and that have put their heart and soul into it, and it's just so rewarding to work with people like that, and you're able to accomplish things when you're in government."

He added the pandemic has been difficult for everyone, but in spite of that, they were able to get things done in the face of COVID-19 that will benefit Manitobans for many years to come.

Looking back on his career as an MLA, Pedersen says meeting and interacting with people was his favourite part of the job. He says the events, which drew people together, is what they've missed over the last 18 months

Pedersen feels being an MLA in Manitoba is a special distinction, as there's been fewer than 900 MLAs in the entire history of Manitoba. He also says being an MLA is a position one should never take for granted.