The Passing of Yogi Huyghebaert


Nick Murray

Yogi Huyghebaert was an interesting, brave and talented man. He passed away on August 2nd, 2018. Before becoming a well respected provincial politician he was a fighter pilot in the Canadian Forces as well as the Commander of the Snowbirds Air Demonstration Team -
431 Squadron. Huyghebaert joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1961.  He was selected for pilot training and received his wings in 1968.  He spent some time in service as a squadron pilot in West Germany and as a member of the embassy staff in Washington, DC before being selected to fly with the Snowbirds.   In 1987,  Huyghebaert was awarded the Order of Military Merit for his exceptional service with the Canadian Forces.

After his time with the military, he and his wife Phyllis lived on a small ranch near Glentworth.  Huyghebaert was a popular member of the Saskatchewan Party, joining shortly after its creation in 1997 and then running in the first Saskatchewan Party leadership race in 1998.

He lost by a single vote in the 1999 provincial election. The result was eventually overturned and in 2000 he won the byelection with a large majority.  He was re-elected with huge majorities in 2003 and 2007. In 2011, he decimated the opposition, earning 82 per cent of the total vote. That would be his final campaign as  he decided not to seek re-election in 2016.

Huyghebaert was appointed to Brad Wall's cabinet where he served as Minister of Corrections, Public Safety and Policing and later as the government’s Military Liaison.

About the passing of Yogi Huyghebaert, Greg Lawrence, Sask Party MLA for Moose Jaw-Wakamow said:

"From his passion for cooking and good wine to the love for his family and telling stories, Yogi’s personality was larger than life. At many of the mess dinners he attended Yogi was surrounded by pilots, both young and old, who hung on his every word. I have so many memories of our time together that it has been a struggle finding the right words to explain how he will be missed. Yogi was definitely one of a kind. When he informed me of his plans to retire, I told him that he had given the better part of his life to the service of Canada and Saskatchewan. He replied that it was time and that he wanted to spend more time travelling with his bride.

I want to express my deepest sympathies and gratitude to Phyllis and family. Thank you for sharing Yogi with his country and province for so long. We are all better for his service and for having known him.”

Current Premier Scott Moe had this to say:

“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. Yogi greatly improved the coverage levels and reduced the turnaround time, so Saskatchewan people received the assistance they needed a lot more quickly.”

“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. 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."
Moe added, “He was a good friend and I will miss him.”

Even the former Premier, Brad Wall, took to his Twitter to comment on the passing of his long time friend and co-worker:

"Yogi Huyghebaert who died today was a colleague and friend. He was there from the beginning of SaskParty making contributions as a cab min and left a legacy as the Sk’s first Military Liason. His dedication to his country and his province was unquestionable. We will miss you Yogi."

A Celebration of Life will be held on Monday, August 13, 2018, come & go from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Officers Mess, Canadian Forces Base, Moose Jaw, SK.

The flags at the Legislative Assembly will be lowered to half-staff until Huyghebaert’s funeral.