Dr. Janice Mackinnon
DR. JANICE MACKINNON
Professor, University of Saskatchewan
WHAT SETS HER APART
Janice is chair of Canada’s Economic Advisory Council that meets with Finance Minister Jim Flaherty
Author of 3 books
Recipient of the Order of Canada
Mary Lou Finlay, a writer, radio and TV producer with more than 35 years’ experience, including as host of the flagship CBC Radio program As It Happens
From Mary Lou Finlay
As told to Hailey Eisen
In 1993, two years after entering politics in Saskatchewan, Janice was appointed Finance Minister in Roy Romanow’s government. The province was broke and about to have its credit rating downgraded, and the government’s task was to slash spending and get the deficit under control. This was particularly difficult for an NDP government that was more interested in strengthening social programs than cutting them and indeed her predecessor found he did not have the stomach for the job and resigned. Janice took up the reins and steered the province back to financial health with a combination of tough policy and skillful communications. She cut some social spending, but also raised taxes on top earners so that the less privileged members of society weren’t the only ones to feel the pain. She also increased spending in some social areas. The policies were seen as fair by most people, and they got the job done.
Janice has an amazing way of looking at problems, peeling them apart, dissecting them, and finding a solution—which not only makes her an excellent leader, but also a great confidante and friend. If you bring Janice a personal or career problem, she will listen with sympathy but, more important, ask the right questions to help you get enough distance from the issue to see your way through it. She’s helped me with many challenges and struggles over the years, including the decision to move from full-time employment to semi-retirement.
Janice and I met when I was the host of CBC’s As It Happens and we brought her on the show as a regular panelist on a weekly political affairs segment. It struck me then how truly intelligent this woman really was. She had a keen practical sense, an understanding of economics informed by her tenure as Finance Minister, and impressive research skills established during her academic training as an historian. All of this made her an extremely effective, fair, and persuasive panelist. We wanted her particularly, because she wasn’t an ideologue. She wasn’t going to tout the party line, on any issue, so you could trust that what she gave you was always her best judgment, and she was never afraid to speak the truth as she saw it, politely but firmly.
Janice and her husband Peter are both active and engaged in the academic world and public policy. She has, for many years, taught as a professor at the University of Saskatchewan where he was President. It’s not uncommon for government bodies and boards to reach out to this power couple, seeking their involvement and advice. Janice has served as Chair of the Institute for Research on Public Policy and has authored three books including Minding The Public Purse—a fascinating read if you’re interested in politics, economics, and the role of women.
As a grandmother, she’s wild about her new grandchildren and has thrown herself into this new role with as much enthusiasm as she’s done everything else. While Janice and her husband will remain in Saskatoon, they’ve bought a condo in Vancouver so they can spend more time with their granddaughters.