August 2, 2018 5:56 pm

Former Sask. Party MLA and Snowbird leader Yogi Huyghebaert passes away at 74

Former Saskatchewan Corrections Minister and veteran MLA Yogi Huyghebaert passed away Thursday at age 74.

Global News

Former Wood River MLA and retired Lieutenant-Colonel D.F. (Yogi) Huyghebaert passed away Thursday at the age of 74.

Premier Scott Moe extended condolences to Huyghebaert’s family, friends, and Saskatchewan Party colleagues in a statement.

“After a long and distinguished military career, Yogi could have chosen to enjoy his retirement, but instead, he decided to continue his public service as one of the first members of the Saskatchewan Party,” Premier Scott Moe said.

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“He was a four-term MLA in opposition and government, a minister, and always a strong voice for his Wood River constituency and rural Saskatchewan.”

“He was a good friend and I will miss him,” the premier added.

READ MORE: Veteran Saskatchewan MLA Yogi Huyghebaert says he won’t run again in 2016

Born in Lafleche, Sask. Huyghebaert joined the Royal Canadian Airforce in 1961. He received his wings in 1968.

From there, Huyghebaert served as a squadron pilot in West Germany and a member of the Canadian embassy staff in Washington D.C.

Later, he was chosen to fly, and eventually lead, the world famous Snowbirds.

In 1987, Governor-General Jeanne Sauve invested Huyghebaert with the Order of Military Merit for his exceptional service with the Canadian Forces.

Following his military career, Huyghebaert and his wife Phyllis lived on a small ranch near Glentworth, Sask.

In retirement, Huyghebaert entered politics and joined the Saskatchewan Party shortly after its formation. He was a prominent early member and ran in the first party leadership race in 1998.

He lost in the 1999 provincial election by a single vote. The result was later overturned, and Huyghebaert won the 2000 byelection with a large majority.

He was re-elected in subsequent elections, winning 82 per cent of the vote in 2011. Ultimately he decided not to seek re-election in the 2016 campaign.

READ MORE: “Support our Troops” license plates now available in Sask.

During his time in government, he served as Minister of Corrections, Public Safety and Policing and later as the province’s military liaison.

“As Public Safety minister, Yogi made significant improvements to the Provincial Disaster Assistance Program (PDAP), which at the time was too slow and ineffective in responding to people whose homes and businesses were damaged or destroyed by natural disasters,” Moe said. “Yogi greatly improved the coverage levels and reduced the turnaround time, so Saskatchewan people received the assistance they needed a lot more quickly.”

The flags are the Legislative Building will fly at half-mast until Huyghebaert’s funeral is held.

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