Gordon Snyder

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Gordon Taylor Snyder, (December 17, 1924 – December 10, 2005) was the Minister of Labour of the Canadian province of Saskatchewan from 1971 to 1982, and a member of the Saskatchewan New Democratic Party (NDP).[1] Gordon led a meaningful and productive life, which in many ways, reflected the essence of the province he loved.

Early years[edit]

His formative years,[2] spanning the Great Depression, were divided between the family farm and Moose Jaw where his father worked as a railroad engineer and a respected union leader. Family discussions surrounded Christian responsibility to your fellow man and the works of prominent European social thinkers. Gordon was appalled at the injustice of an economic system, which left to its own devices, threw so many into despair and poverty, then quickly flourished when socially unproductive items like tanks, guns, and bombs were built. This view that society should serve all its citizens, not just the wealthy and powerful, led Gordon and his parents to become some of the earliest members of the CCF party which later became the NDP.

In 1942, Gordon jointed the RCAF, serving Canada until his discharge at the war's end in 1945. He then returned home to take up a career as a railroad engineer, operate the family farm and actively participate in community affairs.

Political career[edit]

Gordon’s commitment to the development of a just society led him to seek and win office in the 1960 provincial election under the leadership of T.C. Douglas. In 1962, he was a “proud foot soldier” in the fight that brought universal Medicare to Saskatchewan, and ultimately led to its adoption across Canada.

Subsequent election wins in 1964, 1971, 1975 and 1978 made Gordon one of Saskatchewan’s longest serving MLAs with a total of 22 years in the legislature. His 1971-1982 appointment by Premier Allan Blakeney to the Provincial Cabinet as Minister of Labour provided the opportunity to develop legislation which reflected Saskatchewan values of fairness, dignity and equality. Snyder was the only labour minister for the entire duration of the Blakeney government from 1971-82. Typically, ministers serve a maximum of three to four years in a portfolio - eleven years is almost unheard of .[3] [4]

Most often a particular minister will want a change of scenery after a few years on the job or they will start to hit road blocks with stakeholder groups and the premier will decide it is time to try someone new. Neither was ever the case for Gordon.

As a Cabinet Minister, his favourite legislative accomplishment was the development of a Canadian first, the Occupational Health and Safety Act, which, since its implementation, has served to protect the lives and health of a great many people from workplace related accidents and illness. Another Canadian first, the introduction of the forty-hour work week was also made during his tenure as head of the Department of Labour. Gordon Snyder also undertook the complete revamping of workers' compensation in Saskatchewan changing it from a system that saw the government pay out lump sums for permanent injuries to one that was based on income replacement with the focus on rehabilitation.[5][6][7][8]

Gordon retired from public life after the defeat of the provincial NDP government in the 1982 election.

  1. ^ "The Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan" http://esask.uregina.ca/entry/snyder_gordon_taylor_1924-.html
  2. ^ Shaak, L. 2002. Without Regrets: Gordon Snyder’s Reflections
  3. ^ “Explaining the Saskatchewan NDP’s Shift to Third Way Social Democracy” By David McGrane, Carleton University Presented to Annual Conference of Canadian Political Science Association June 3rd, 2006, Toronto http://www.cpsa-acsp.ca/papers-2006/McGrane-Explaining.pdf
  4. ^ Is Innovation a Question of Will or Circumstance? An Exploration of the Innovation Process Through the Lens of the Blakeney Government in Saskatchewan . Eleanor Glor 2000. See Chapter 7: Social Justice Through Legislation: Saskatchewan Labour, Gordon T. Snyder, page 112. http://www.innovation.cc/books/is-innovation-a-question-of-will-or-circumstance.pdf
  5. ^ Policy Innovation in the Saskatchewan Public Sector, 1971–1982. North York: Captus Press.
  6. ^ Moose Jaw: On Stage Consulting; Snyder, Gordon. 1997. “Social Justice for Workers.” In Eleanor Glor (ed.),
  7. ^ On the Side of the People: A History of Labour in Saskatchewan, James Warren and Kathleen Carlisle. 2005.
  8. ^ See Toby Stewart and Larry Flynn, “The Employment Support Program: Innovative Community Economic and Social Development” in Policy Innovation in the Saskatchewan Public Sector, 1971-1982, Eleanor Glor (ed.), (North York: Captus Press, 1997), 189-203