Steven Bonk nominated for second term
March 17, 2019, 4:27 pm
Moosomin MLA Steven Bonk has been nominated as the Saskatchewan Party candidate in the 2020 provincial election.
Bonk won a contested nomination to be the Saskatchewan Party nominee in the last provincial election, after former MLA Don Toth announced he was retiring from politics.
Bonk was elected as MLA for Moosomin on April 4, 2016.
On Monday last week, Bonk was nominated by the Moosomin constituency association of the Sask Party.
Start in politics
Why did Bonk get interested in politics?
“I think it had a lot to do with my previous career,” he says. “I spent about 20 years working in post-Soviet countries, mainly working on economic development and trade and agriculture, and every time I would come home I would realize how fortunate we were to live where we do, and we take it for granted.
“Politics was always something in the back of my mind that I thought there maybe was at some point something I could do to help.
“When we moved back to Saskatchewan I got involved with our Sask Party Association and I was very impressed with the good work that Brad Wall was doing and then Don Toth asked me one day.
He said ‘I’m not going to be running again, maybe you should take a look at this’ and that’s when I started to really think about it in earnest.”
Experience in government
Bonk says he has enjoyed his first few years in government.
“I’ve really enjoyed it,” he said.
“Things in government do move a little slower than I was expecting. The pace is different than a private business for sure, but I’ve learned also there are very valid and important reasons why things do move a little bit slow.
“There are checks and balances that are absolutely necessary for our democracy to function the way it does.
“But I have enjoyed it and I think in the short time I’ve been in government, I’ve been able to actually make a bit of a difference and I’m actually quite proud of the work we’ve done.”
Bonk points to several accomplishments so far in his first term.
“Particularly on the investment attraction to the province, I’ve had the good fortune of being involved in trade and export and investment attraction, and those are passions for me and the reasons I got involved.
“We’ve actually had a lot of success in attracting investment into the province as well as developing trade relations and bolstering our resource economy and our agriculture economy and manufacturing economy.”
Decision to seek a second term
Bonk says he decided to seek a second term because he sees the potential to accomplish so much more in government.
“I’m brand new to politics, and you don’t know at the beginning what it’s going to be like, but now after being in it for awhile I realize that we’ve managed to do some good work and I think there is a lot more work that we can do, and I look forward to taking it on. Now that I’ve started I don’t want to stop.”
Hopes for political career
What does Bonk hope for in his political career?
“I serve at the pleasure of the premier and I’m happy to fulfill any job that he wants or needs me to take on,” he says.
“Of course I’m very interested in our trade relationships, particularly international trade because, as you know, in our constituency in particular we are very export dependent. We have oil, we have gas, potash, mining, world-class manufacturing, agriculture—all of which rely completely on international trade, and it’s something that is near and dear to my heart and I think something I can help with, something I can offer something on.
Bonk says there are a lot of demands on MLAs, as they seek to serve their constituents while serving as part of the government.
“A typical day while we’re in session, for example, would usually start with a breakfast meeting with a stakeholder group and then we would have committee meetings of some sort—I’m on quite a few different committees. Then we would have our caucus meetings, then usually there is also another caucus standing committee meeting, and then we would go into session for the day, and then after session we usually have more stakeholder groups that offer receptions to bring their concerns forward to us, so it’s a pretty full day from morning right through to late evening.”
What are the larger issues that keep Bonk motivated to try to make a difference?
“For me, what I’m really interested in is developing our international trade relations,” he says, “developing, opening Saskatchewan up to new markets in the world. I think it is very important that we have as many diversified markets as we can possibly have for our products, and that is something that is of real importance to me.
“I know it’s maybe not the most glamorous thing when you think of it in relation to health care or education or roads and infrastructure, but it is what drives everything in our province. This is what pays for all those other things, and it’s something that I care deeply about and I think you see it in Moosomin Constituency in particular. It’s of utmost importance.
“So if I can help that in any way, that’s what I want to do, and I think I bring a unique perspective having such a long, and varied career in those fields of international development in trade, that I hopefully can bring to that file.”
Bonk has extensive experience in the domestic and international agribusiness fields. He has worked on four continents as a consultant in agricultural management and policy development. He has also worked as an advisor on international trade and market access. He lived in Europe for nearly a decade, where he was the managing director of livestock-based enterprises and as a management consultant to help companies grow and solve strategic challenges with the transition to a free market economy, particularly in post-Soviet countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
Bonk communicates in four languages, facilitating his participation on international roundtable discussion panels, and he is a recognized speaker at agribusiness-related events. He is also actively involved in his family’s custom grazing and livestock business near Wolseley.
Bonk has served Saskatchewan as Minister of the Economy and Minister responsible for Tourism Saskatchewan, Innovation and Trade.
He has also served as a member of the Standing Committee on the Economy, the Public Accounts Committee, Treasury Board, and as Chair of the caucus Legislation and Regulation Review Red Tape Committee. He currently serves as legislative secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and a member of the SaskBuilds Corporation Board.